- Advertisers like Disney, Apple, and IBM boycotted X due to Elon Musk’s controversial remarks.
- Media Matters exposed leading brands unknowingly featured on X with white nationalist hashtags.
- Tesla’s board faces challenges as Musk’s behavior affects profits amid the EV revolution.
Electric car manufacturing company Tesla continues to be a roller coaster ride for investors and its board, as the latest controversy about its owner, Elon Musk, is threatening profits once again. Since Tesla CEO Musk took over social media company Twitter as new owner and CEO in October 2022 and rebranded it as X, various controversies have arisen.
Most notably, and most recently, Elon Musk, whose recent controversial remarks on the platform have been at the center of a mass advertiser exodus on X, told advertisers boycotting the company to “go [expletive] yourself” during the DealBook Summit hosted by the New York Times on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, a shocking revelation was made by Media Matters, a well-respected watchdog group. They uncovered that leading brands such as Apple, Bravo, and Amazon had unknowingly had their advertisements featured on X alongside white nationalist hashtags, including #WLM (White Lives Matter) and #KeepEuropeWhite. As a result of Media Matters’ report, several X advertisers, including titans like Disney, Apple, Lionsgate, Comcast/NBCUniversal, and IBM, made a swift decision to cut ties with the platform, Axios reported.
In a surprising twist, the social media platform countersued Media Matters for defamation, claiming that the non-profit had acted “maliciously” in its efforts to drive away advertisers by publishing the report.
When speaking onstage at the DealBook event, the Verge reported that Elon Musk described his antisemitic post as a “mistake.” He added, “I should in retrospect not have replied to that one person and should have written in greater length what I meant. But those clarifications were ignored by the media and essentially I handed a loaded gun to those who hate me and arguably to those who are antisemitic. And for that I’m quite sorry, that was not my intention.” Despite Musk’s acknowledgment, the billionaire does not appear willing to admit his responsibility for causing the advertiser boycott.
The EV revolution doesn’t need this kind of controversy. Tesla’s board is advised to reign in Musk for the benefit of its future and the future of the EV industry. Few business leaders would agree that this behavior is at all recommended. When mistakes like these are made, leaders need to lead by example and apologize for their mistakes.
Companies such as Disney, Apple, Lionsgate, Comcast/NBCUniversal, and IBM have their own profitability and reputations to worry about and cannot be blamed for stepping away from controversy such as this. EVs are already a politically charged issue, with red states adopting them more slowly, and Tesla doesn’t need or want to contend with problems like this.
Billions of dollars are at stake as car-makers, EV charging companies, and other stakeholders invest heavily in EVs as electric vehicles continue their swift takeover of the global transportation industry.
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