Amid a mass advertising boycott on X, the former editor of The Business Post said the “cult” of CEOs being outspoken simply doesn’t work.
Several major US companies have pulled their advertising from the social media platform in a row over Mr Musk’s alleged endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
Apple, Disney, Paramount, Sony Pictures and Comcast have all halted advertising on the site formerly known as Twitter.
The X owner came under fire on Wednesday after he replied to a post sharing an antisemitic conspiracy theory, calling it "actual truth".
Mr Musk denied the post was antisemitic, but he has widespread criticism for the endorsement, including the White House calling the post “a hideous lie”.
Former Business Post Editor Richie Oakley, now with PR firm Murray Group, said X has been in a “difficult situation” since Mr Musk bought it.
“X’s finances aren’t good, it’s no longer worth anything close to what he paid for.
“There are concerns over the reliability of the content, what people would find if they went looking for information about what’s happening in the Middle East.”
Mr Oakley explained X tried to “stabilise advertising” by bringing in new companies, but now the companies they brought in are exiting again.
“Musk is picking fights with everyone,” he said. “Just get on with running the business – this cult of the CEO being outspoken doesn’t work.”
Lawsuit by Musk
Mr Musk has also said he will file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters after it said advertising by IBM, Apple and other companies were being placed alongside antisemitic content.
Writer and broadcaster Stefanie Preissner said his behaviour makes you wonder, ‘Are you on something?’.
“He’s basically defending antisemitism,” she said.
“The whole platform of Twitter is based on 140 characters – we remove nuance and just get reactionary comments.
“Now companies are starting to say they don’t want to be associated with that.”
'It will never hold'
Mr Oakley said Mr Musk’s lawsuit against Media Matters will “never hold”.
“All they did was say there are company ads running alongside hate speech and those companies have to make a decision to cease those ads for the time being,” he said.
“This has been an issue all the time on various platforms – you're placing your content there, but you can’t control what pops up next.”
Mr Musk said X will be suing Media Matters “to protect free speech” and accused the company of manipulating the public.
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