Elon Musk: His week of triumph became... devil week -
Last week should have been a triumph for Elon Musk.
He had been invited to participate, on Thursday, in the annual session of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in San Francisco, but his speech was suddenly canceled at the fifth minute - after the White House first accused him of "heinous promotion of anti-Semitic and racist hatred".
Elon Musk: The anti-Semitic comments also brought pressure on the CEO to resign
Even the European Commission asked, on Friday, its services to stop their advertising campaigns on X, epikadescribing the "alarming increase in misinformation and hate speech".
He had also scheduled for Saturday the second test flight of SpaceX's Starship spacecraftwhich aspires to one day carry humans to the Moon and Mars – this time the Starship reached an altitude of about 148 km, compared to just 38 the first time, but ultimately both the craft and the Super Heavy rocket that carried it suffered a RUD, a rapid unplanned dissolution;
And what's worse is that X, the platform that Musk bought as Twitter a year ago, is now at risk of the same fate: more and more business giants are pulling their ads from it after the publication of the latest report of the media watchdog Media Matters, which found that ads from major companies were appearing alongside content praising Hitler, denying the Holocaust, promoting anti-LGBTQ+ hate, and so on.
The demon phase
To top things off, Elon Musk's latest "demonic phase" — one that according to his biographer, Walter Isaacson, he goes through quite often... — appears to have begun on Wednesday afternoon, prompted by a screenshot of of US network MSNBC, from 2022, uploaded by an X user, reporting a tripling of anti-black rhetoric and a roughly 60% increase in anti-Semitic and homophobic tweets since Musk bought it.
The figures were based on information from the New York Times and the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-Semitism organization that has long had open accounts with Musk.
Reacting, the owner of X wrote on the platform that "it would be more accurate" to remove "anti" before "defamation".
And three-quarters of a century later, he liked another post, which argued that Jewish communities "promote the exact same dialectical hatred against whites that they say they want not used against them" - while also promoting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that wants Jews to they help "minority hordes" invade the US to replace whites.
"You spoke the exact truth," Musk commented under the controversial post, sparking an angry reaction from even the White House.
The Media Matters report
Media Matters' latest report was released 24 hours later.
And it gave the final push to announce that they were pulling their ads from X, first IBM, and then a number of equally well-known companies: Apple, Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, Comcast…
Even the European Commission asked its agencies on Friday to stop their advertising campaigns on X, citing a "worrying increase in misinformation and hate speech".
The that same evening, Elon Musk appeared to make an effort to pick up the slack by announcing that using "euphemisms" like "decolonization" or "from the river to the sea" that "necessarily involve a genocide [of Israelis] violates his terms of service X and will get the user banned."
That attempt at rebalancing, however, did not stop him from declaring on Saturday that "the split second that court opens on Monday, X Corp will file a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and all those complicit in this fraudulent attack against our company".
"Instead of the champion of free speech he claims to be," countered Media Matters president Angelo Caruso, "Musk is a bully who threatens frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to silence reporting that even he has confirmed as accurate . (…) If he actually sues us, we will win."
The big changes
Musk bought Twitter in October 2022 for $44 billion.
Exactly one year later, after renaming it, teasing its functionality, introducing paid features and laying off thousands of workers, including many content reviewers, the specialist firm Guideline estimated that its ad revenue had dropped by 55%, on average , every month after the acquisition.
That's one of the main reasons Linda Giaccarino, formerly head of commercial at NBCUniversal, was brought in as CEO in May.
"X has been absolutely clear about our efforts to fight anti-Semitism and discrimination," she wrote on the platform on Friday night.
"There is absolutely no place for them anywhere in the world," he added, struggling to remedy a situation that hardly seems salvageable.