Elon Musk walks back ‘go f‑‑‑ yourself’ comments to advertisers

Elon Musk on Wednesday walked back his harsh comments to advertisers last November, when he told the industry to “go f‑‑‑ yourself” after several firms pulled their ad spending on his social media platform X.

“It wasn’t to advertisers as a whole,” Musk said Wednesday in a conversation with WPP CEO Mark Read at the Cannes Lions advertising festival.

“It was with respect to freedom of speech,” he continued. “I think it is important to have a global free speech platform, where people from a wide range of opinions can voice their views.”

The billionaire owner of X argued that some advertisers were “insisting on censorship.”

Several major companies — including Disney, Apple, IBM, Comcast, Lionsgate, Warner Bros. Discovery, Sony Pictures and Paramount — paused their ad spending on the platform last fall, after reports emerged that X was placing ads for mainstream brands next to pro-Nazi and white nationalist content.

Musk, in turn, lashed out at advertisers in an expletive-laden outburst at The New York Times DealBook Summit.

“If someone is going to try and blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go f‑‑‑ yourself,” he said at the time. “Go f‑‑‑ yourself. Is that clear? Hope it is.”

Musk framed the situation Wednesday as a choice between free speech and money.

“If we have to make a choice between censorship and money or free speech and losing money, we’re going to choose the second,” he said. “We’re going to support free speech rather than agree to be censored for money, which is I think the right moral decision.”

However, he also acknowledged that advertisers “have a right to appear next to content that they find compatible with their brands.”

“That’s totally cool,” Musk said. “But what is not cool is insisting that there can be no content that they disagree with on the platform.”

“In order for X to be the public square for the world, it really better be a free speech platform,” he added. “Now, that doesn’t mean people can say illegal things. It’s free speech within the bounds of the law.”

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