We’ve seen enough, Elon Musk. You are a bad guy.
You’re a menace. And while it is certainly your right to be an asshole, it is not your right to put others at risk. Further, you are not entitled to the support of government or private businesses when you undermine their interests, attack their values, or aid and abet others who are dangerous or worse.
Indeed, those governments and businesses—and the private individuals who are their constituents and consumers—must actively use everything in their power to stop you from doing greater damage.
Twitter has suffered massive advertising losses because of your toxic cocktail of blending really dumb business decisions with other decisions meant to support your racist, anti-democratic, sometimes infantile political and personal agendas.
Indeed, everything we need to know about your character was revealed over this past weekend, when you sought to blame those losses on someone else—and that you chose to do so in a way that played to the lowest impulses of an antisemitic mob.
It was one of your ugliest displays. And that is saying something.
“It won’t be easy to get the world to divest from you. You are, after all, the world’s richest man.”
As Ben Samuels in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz put it, “After helping #BanTheADL trend worldwide over the weekend, replete with posts riddled with antisemitic conspiracy theories and smears, the world’s richest man continued his attacks on the Jewish anti-discrimination organization while threatening legal action.”
You blamed the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for antisemitism on Twitter because, wait for it, they complained about antisemitism on Twitter.
Your posts taking issue with their stance included amplifying views that called the ADL “pro-Hitler.” You then blamed the nearly two-thirds fall in Twitter ad revenues “primarily” on the ADL, and threatened to sue them for “defamation.”
Go for it, Elon. The process of discovery about you, your past, your associations, and the real causes of gutting of the value of your company would be priceless.
You say you are not an antisemite, Elon, but we know better. Because one who amplifies antisemites, promotes grotesque and unfounded antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes, and then actually seeks to blame the Jews for the attacks he leads against them is, by any definition, not just an antisemite but among the most dangerous forms of that repugnant breed.
As disgusting a display as your weekend assault on the ADL was, please make no mistake, Elon, the reasons for taking action against you are not limited to your antisemitism or your support of antisemites. Indeed, in just the past week, a wave of other stories showed in greater detail the scope and nature of the damage you are doing.
On Sept. 1, a story appeared in The Washington Post with the self-explanatory headline, “Musk’s new Twitter policies helped spread Russian propaganda.” It details how a study by the European Commission showed how—despite your pledges to the contrary—Twitter policies “played a major role in allowing Russian propaganda about Ukraine to reach more people than before the war began.”
We should not be surprised, of course. You have boasted about how close you are to Vladimir Putin, who has used you like a puppet. And, of course, we know that even though the U.S. government subsidized your provision of Starlink services to Ukraine, you then unilaterally decided to deny use of the service to Ukraine to support critical operations in defense of Russia’s war of unprovoked aggression.
Equally disturbing have been recent revelations about Twitter activities in Saudi Arabia. Admittedly, in one of those stories, Twitter’s actions to support Saudi efforts to “commit grave human rights abuses against its users” came prior to your takeover of the company. However, not only did you proceed to buy the company anyway—and do so with Saudi backing—as the situation for Twitter critics of the Saudi regime has gotten worse, you have remained steadfastly silent about it. When one Twitter user was sentenced to death for his tweets, you, the self-anointed champion of free speech, kept your mouth shut. (Which is also nothing new, supporting regimes that crack down on free speech that has actually become a signature characteristic of Musk-era Twitter.)
It won’t be easy to get the world to divest from you. You are, after all, the world’s richest man.
You can, as you have demonstrated, flush billions of dollars down the toilet on a whim. But the rest of us still have some clout left, too, and you have made it clear that it is time to mobilize our influence and utilize the mechanisms at our disposal to stop you before you do even greater harm.
It is time for the United States and other like-minded governments to stop subsidizing your ventures. It is time for advertisers to recognize that every dollar they give you to support the site formerly known as Twitter goes to amplify the views of hate-mongers, racists, and despots.
It is time for consumers to reject advertisers who continue to support you.
It is also time for all of us who invested in Twitter long before you did—who created the content and the community that are the only true valued assets the company has—to use the platform to speak the truth about you even as we seek other social media homes that will maintain the kind of basic community values that seem to value our efforts as contributors and offer some protections from the repulsive mob you, Elon, seem so eager to attract and elevate.
We have reached the point at which every politician in every democracy beginning with the U.S. must be asked: Should the U.S. continue to subsidize the businesses of a man who is actively working for our enemies and against our interests? Should governments step in to require the kind of minimum basic standards on social media that have long been required on broadcast media? Should social media sites have more liability for the damage they do?
At the same time, advertisers must recognize that the dollars they direct to your X/Twitter site cannot be seen as anything other than support for hate, for antisemitism, for white supremacists (as the ADL rightly noted last year), for Nazis, and for those who would directly attack the U.S. system of government. Continued advertising in the wake of recent headlines and now, months of evidence of what your real agenda is, can only be seen as a conscious and explicit endorsement for you and your loathsome allies and supporters.
Finally, while it is perfectly reasonable to expect those who were part of the Twitter community to seek social media platforms with higher standards, do not expect those of us who still find some utility in the site to go quietly.
Indeed, I harbor a hope that members of the Twitter community who remain will be able to use their voices to help ameliorate the behavior of your management of the site. In the best of all possible outcomes, the economic and political consequences of that pressure will force you to sell the site to someone who recognizes the promise it once had that its current ownership is now squandering.
The post Enough! Advertisers and Governments Must Dump Elon Musk. appeared first on The Daily Beast.