Musk looks to bring advertisers back to X after ‘go f— yourself’ comment

Billionaire Elon Musk on Wednesday pitched advertisers on returning to X, formerly Twitter, after the platform saw an exodus of brands amid concerns about content moderation and antisemitic posts.

Musk spoke at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France, which is an annual event that brings in many leading marketing executives from around the world, and was asked about his remarks in November that advertisers departing X should “go f— yourself.”

He explained that he didn’t intend for his comment to be directed at advertisers overall, and it was aimed at those trying to leverage their advertising spend into forcing X to censor content they didn’t like.

“First of all, it wasn’t to advertisers as a whole. It was with respect to freedom of speech,” Musk said. “It is important to have a global free speech platform where people with a wide range of opinions can voice their views. In some cases there were advertisers who were insisting on censorship.”

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Elon Musk X

Billionaire Elon Musk said that advertisers who left X should consider returning to the platform. (Marc Piasecki/Getty Images / Getty Images)

“Of course advertisers have a right to appear next to content they find compatible with their brands. That’s totally fine,” Musk added. “What is not cool is insisting that there can be no content that they disagree with on the platform.”

Last fall, several brands halted advertising on X due to concerns about ads appearing next to antisemitic and objectionable content. 

The controversy intensified after Musk appeared to express agreement with a post that touted an antisemitic conspiracy theory, which prompted him to state that he isn’t antisemitic and didn’t intend for his post to be perceived that way.

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Musk, X logo

X faced an exodus of advertisers in late 2023. (Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Musk said to advertisers who left the platform or haven’t advertised on X that the company’s new ad targeting features are “worth trying out.”

He explained that the company is working to improve how the platform matches X users with relevant ads through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), and said the company is “very focused on having ads be shown to people who would find the ad interesting.”

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Elon Musk X

Musk’s X has revamped its ad targeting for advertisers using AI. (Muhammed Selim Korkutata/Anadolu via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Musk also said that X is the best platform for advertisers to reach their intended audience.

“Probably the biggest thing for the X platform is if you’re trying to reach senior decision makers, if you want to reach the most influential people in the world… then the X platform is by far the best,” he added.

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