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Elon Musk Tries To Win Back Advertisers He Told ‘Go F— Yourself’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Elon Musk is trying to win back X advertisers after his foul-mouthed remarks about companies leaving the social media platform. 

During an appearance at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in Cannes, France, Musk addressed comments he made last year.

Musk told advertisers threatening to withdraw their ads to "go f--- yourself."

Speaking with WPP CEO Mark Read, Musk clarified his statement was intended to emphasize the importance of free speech rather than targeting the advertising industry as a whole. 

Musk said: "It wasn’t to advertisers as a whole.

“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.”

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“In some cases, there were advertisers who were insisting on censorship.

“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.”

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

Musk traveled to Cannes earlier in the week to reassure ad groups and global brands about the future of X. 

He was accompanied by Linda Yaccarino, X’s CEO and former chairman of global advertising and partnerships for NBC Universal.

Musk: "What is not cool is insisting that there can be no content that they disagree with on the platforms"

Last year, major advertisers such as Apple, IBM, Disney, and Sony pulled their ads from X.

It was after Musk's controversial comments and concerns about their ads appearing alongside toxic content. 

In response to criticism, Musk visited Israel to address accusations of amplifying anti-Jewish hatred on X.

In a November interview at the 2023 DealBook Summit in New York, Musk had a strong message for advertisers, threatening to pull their spending, telling them, "Don’t advertise." 

He added: "If somebody is going to try and blackmail me with advertising? Blackmail me with money? Go f--- yourself."

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On Wednesday, June 19, Musk attempted to retract his attacks on advertisers, acknowledging their right to control their ad placements. 

He said: "Of course, advertisers have a right to appear next to content they find compatible with their brands.

"What is not cool is insisting that there can be no content that they disagree with on the platforms."

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

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