Elon Musk Realises He Went Too Far in Telling Advertisers to ‘Go F*ck’ Themselves

Elon Musk Realises He Went Too Far in Telling Advertisers to ‘Go F*ck’ Themselves

It’s not too often Elon Musk walks back something he has said. Usually, he just hopes we all forget about the asinine claims and promises he makes, and we all go on with our lives. Well folks, not this time, because this mistake clearly is having an impact on Musk’s companies and their bottom lines. Last year, the CEO lashed out at advertisers that were fleeing his social media site, X, telling them to “go fuck” themselves. Oh, how the times have changed.

At the Cannes Lions advertising festival in Cannes, France, Musk was asked by WPP CEO Mark Read – the head of a British communications company – what he meant when he told advertisers to “go fuck yourself,” according to CNBC. Well, ol’ Musky, realizing the error of his ways, changed his tune a bit. He said it was actually meant to be a point on free speech as a whole rather than a message to the advertising industry, specifically. Here’s more on what Musk said, from CNBC:

“It wasn’t to advertisers as a whole,” Musk said. “It was with respect to freedom of speech, I think it is important to have a global free speech platform, where people from a wider range of opinions can voice their views.”

“In some cases, there were advertisers who were insisting on censorship,” Musk said. “At the end of the day … if we have to make a choice between censorship and losing money, [or] censorship and money, or free speech and losing money, we’re going to choose the second.”

“We’re going to support free speech rather than agree to be censored for money which I think is the right moral decision,” he added.

Musk was in Cannes this week trying to reassure advertisers that X is a good place to spend their money – even if it really isn’t. The big push was made by both Musk and the social media site’s CEO Linda Yaccarino.

Here’s some of our reporting on when Musk first told advertisers to go fuck themselves back in November of last year, from Amber DaSilva:

In a talk at the DealBook Summit earlier this week, Musk talked about his rash of interactions with antisemites on Twitter — the same interactions that caused many advertisers to flee the site. Rather than expressing deep contrition, according to the Verge, Musk took a slightly different approach:

“I hope they stop. Don’t advertise,” Musk told interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin. “If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.” He singled out Disney CEO Bob Iger, who discussed not wanting Disney to be affiliated with Musk while onstage earlier in the day. “Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience.”

If advertisers don’t return, Musk said, “what this advertising boycott is going to do is it’s going to kill the company.” He seemed almost resigned to the possibility, speaking of it almost as though X were a martyr and advertisers the enemy. “That is what everybody on Earth will know,” he said. “We’ll be gone, and it’ll be gone because of an advertiser boycott.”

The move by Musk caused some of the world’s largest advertisers like Apple, Disney, IBM and Sony to pull their marketing off X. It was not ideal for the company. Only time will tell if Musk’s half-hearted excuse is enough to get advertisers to come back. Even if it is, they’ll still have to deal with the cesspool that X has become since Musk took over, not that it was ever very good in the first place.

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