Elon Musk has accused firms who have stopped spending on his social media platform X, formerly Twitter, in response to antisemitic and other hateful material of engaging in “blackmail”.
The billionaire’s comments came two days after he visited Israel, where he toured a kibbutz attacked by Hamas militants and held talks with top leaders.
In an on-stage interview at The New York Times DealBook Summit, Musk was told by host Andrew Ross Sorkin: “You’re clarifying this now, but there was a public perception that that was part of a apology tour, if you will… that this had been said online, there was all of the criticism, there was advertisers…”
“I hope they stop,” Musk interjected. “Don’t advertise. If someone is going to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go f*** yourself.”
To titters in the audience, he added: “Go f*** yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.”
Musk also apologised for endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory in response to a post on X that helped fuel an advertiser exodus.
Musk has faced accusations from the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish civil rights organisation, and others of tolerating antisemitic messages on the platform since buying it last year.
The content on X has gained increased scrutiny since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October.
A slew of big brands, including Disney and IBM, this month stopped advertising on the platform after a report by liberal advocacy group Media Matters said their ads were appearing alongside pro-Nazi content and white nationalist posts.
X has since sued Media Matters, saying the Washington-based nonprofit manufactured the report to “drive advertisers from the platform and destroy X Corp”.