By Chris Katje
The world’s richest person is also the most followed person on a leading social media platform, which means when they post or reply, it is widely seen by millions of people.
Here’s a look at the latest backlash against Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk and the problems that Twitter, now known as X, have that could impact the share price of the electric vehicle giant.
What Happened: A questionable post by Musk on Twitter has drawn backlash from investors and advertisers and could be a catalyst for both the social media platform and Tesla.
A post on Twitter said that Jewish communities were pushing “hatred against whites,” which drew a reply from Musk saying the post “said the actual truth.”
Musk’s reply was seen by over one million visitors on Twitter, increasing the reach of the original accusation.
Musk also criticized the Anti-Defamation League and other groups for pushing “de facto anti-white racism.”
International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) pausing advertising Thursday on X may have been the tip of the iceberg. On Friday, more companies were pulling advertising on the social media platform due to Musk’s comments.
Twitter CEO Does Damage Control: On Thursday, Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino appeared to play damage control, posting a response to the backlash.
“X’s point of view has always been very clear that discrimination by everyone should STOP across the board — I think that’s something we can and should all agree on. When it comes to this platform — X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There’s no place for it anywhere in the world — it’s ugly and wrong. Full stop.” Yaccarino tweeted.
The post by the Twitter CEO has over 5,000 likes and was met with mixed reactions, including many replies asking if her boss (aka Elon Musk) was familiar with the policy.
User @john_sipher told Yaccarino that she should resign instead of lying to defend a “boss with ugly views.” This reply had 3,400 likes.
Another Twitter user said “the old Twitter would’ve suspended Elon’s account after this week. Full stop.”
User @itsJeffTiedrich was among the users who asked Yaccarino about Musk.
“Have you met your boss,” the reply read.
The post had over 5,500 likes, which was one of several to “ratio” Yaccarino’s original post with more likes.
White House spokesman Andrew Bates said it was “unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of Antisemitism in American history at any time,” as shared by CNBC.
“We condemn this abhorrent promotion of Antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans,” Bates said.
Technology giant IBM confirmed a pause in its Twitter advertising shortly after the reply from Musk. One report showed that IBM’s ads were placed alongside antisemitic posts.
IBM was set to spend $1 million in advertising on the platform for the fourth quarter, according to The New York Times.
The Times said that employees of Twitter said other advertisers had called to question the posts by Musk.
Telsa investor Ross Gerber is among those sharing outrage over Musk’s posts on Twitter, as shared by Zenger News.
Gerber, the CEO and president of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management, said that Musk’s reaction to an antisemitic post was not in the best interest of Tesla and could hurt the brand.
“He is not acting as the CEO of Tesla right now,” Gerber said during a CNBC interview.
Gerber said it was “absolutely outrageous, his behaviors and the damage he’s caused the brand.”
The investor said he wouldn’t sell his Tesla shares, but mentioned that clients had been increasing their calls to sell shares of the company.
Citron Research, known for shorting stocks and publishing reports, shared commentary on Twitter about Musk and Tesla.
“As a former Musk critic turned supporter and Tesla owner, I once admired Elon Musk for his anti-establishment stance,” Citron tweeted. “However, my perspective has shifted drastically as he’s now abandoned truth and started promoting falsehoods about the Jewish community.”
Citron tweeted that Musk’s judgment and influence are concerning.
“We need accountability, and I hope it comes soon. Take my car back; it is not as good as the BMW anyways.”
Musk’s recent posts on Twitter saw Nia Impact CEO Kristin Hull “appalled,” according to Bloomberg.
“The impact of erratic, racist, and antisemitic speech from a CEO directly affects Tesla’s brand and bottom line in significant ways,” Hull said.
Hull said a response could include censure of Musk by Tesla’s board of directors, demotion, suspension or removal.
Zenger News shared in October that the European Union has been targeting Twitter over the potential spread of misinformation on social media related to the increased tension from the Middle East conflict. A report from Insider said Musk considered removing X from Europe to avoid the regulation rules and potential fines.
TSLA Price Action: Tesla shares are up 1% to $235.07 on Friday, which comes after shares fell Thursday on the backlash.
Produced in association with Benzinga