Elon Musk, the innovative mind behind several groundbreaking companies, has recently drawn criticism for his online activities. On a platform he acquired, formerly known as Twitter, Musk has been embroiled in controversies involving dangerous conspiracy theories.
His latest engagement involves the infamous "Pizzagate" conspiracy, which he highlighted by responding to a user's post, thereby exposing the theory to his vast following of over 160 million. "Pizzagate" emerged in 2016 as a baseless anti-Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory, alleging a pedophilia ring operated out of a Washington, DC pizza shop.
The theory led to a violent incident in December 2016 when Edgar Maddison Welch, influenced by these claims, fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but Welch was later sentenced to four years in prison.
Musk's Pattern of Endorsing Fringe Theories
This incident is not isolated in Musk's recent history. He previously aligned himself with an antisemitic conspiracy, suggesting that Jewish people foster "hatred against Whites." Additionally, Musk gave credence to a conspiracy about the attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, by sharing an article filled with unfounded allegations.
The White House and others have condemned Musk's engagement with such theories. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates remarked, "It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of Antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust." Advertisers Withdraw in Response Musk's controversial posts have led to tangible consequences.
Following a report by Media Matters, which identified major brands' ads running alongside pro-Nazi content on the platform, several major advertisers, including Disney, Paramount, and NBCUniversal, paused their spending. IBM also suspended advertising after the report.
In response, Musk's company sued Media Matters, accusing it of distorting facts about ad placements beside extremist content. In defense, Musk claimed he is not antisemitic, stating, "Nothing could be further from the truth." His company asserts that steps have been taken to combat antisemitism and discrimination on the platform.