Musk Claims He's Jew-ish, Pitches Market-Based Hate Speech Ad Buys

In one of his oddest defenses that he’s not anti-Semitic, X Corp.’s Elon Musk gave an interview claiming that his “entire life story” is that he is “pro-Semitic” and that he is “aspirationally Jewish."

The September 29 interview with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, oddly, was pinned to the top of X CEO Linda Yaccarino's personal account with her comment, "This is X demonstrating its absolute commitment to combating antisemitism on the platform. This open dialogue was truly historic."

Listening to it, it was hard for me to tell whether Musk was a) tone deaf, b) joking around, or c) trolling Jewish people, because among other things, his remarks included stereotypical tropes.



At one point, he described the classic Jewish folks song “Hava Nagila” as not necessarily being “the best – it’s a little rusty, but it’s pretty, pretty good.”

The interview followed allegations that Musk is anti-Semitic, because among other things, he has threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League for allegedly dissuading advertisers from buying ads on X.

“My entire life story, in fact, is pro-Semitic,” Musk told Shapiro, going on to note that he attended a Hebrew preschool as a child in South Africa, traveled to Israel, and that his first name is the equivalent of “being called Bob in Israel.”

“I don’t know if I’m genetically Jewish or what – maybe somewhere – but I’m aspirationally Jewish, let me put it that way,” Musk said, adding that he considers himself “pretty Jewish adjacent.”

Oddly, neither Musk nor Shapiro pointed out that anyone aspiring to be Jewish could actually convert to the religion.

Musk went on to re-express his view that hate speech should be tolerated as a form of free speech, and that X’s policy is basically to adhere to whatever laws govern that in the markets in which it operates, with the U.S. being especially tolerant of it.

He claimed that X has been “dealing with it algorithmically” by minimizing the reach of users posting hate speech on X, and also restated claims that the volume of overall hate speech is down during his first year as its owner vs. the year prior to his acquisition of Twitter.

“It dropped by at least 30% and I think they continue to decline,” he claimed, although, unlike Meta -- which has an independent board overseeing its content moderation policies and regularly reports publicly on the steps it has been taking and how hate speech has been trending -- X now operates as a private company, effectively grading its own homework.

Speaking about advertisers’ pullout from X since he acquired the platform, cut its content-moderation team, and reinstated previously banned accounts, as well as reposting and amplifying other questionable ones on his personal account, Musk criticized advertisers as being “rather skittish” in placing X on a “not safe for advertising list.”

“A loud noise in the room can scare advertisers,” he said, adding: “They’re not sort of bold as brass.”

Asked by Shapiro whether the ADL or the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA)’s GARM (Global Alliance for Responsible Media) initiatives aimed at advertisers was a form of constraining free speech, Musk said he thought the problem is a “binary” one, because advertisers have an “on/off switch” when it comes to unsafe content, “which is pretty silly.”

He went on to suggest a market-based approach to advertising in questionable and unsafe content that he likened to the film industry’s rating system.

“You don’t have a go/no go for movies,” he said noting that movies are rated on a scale from general audiences to X-rated ones. He then chuckled to himself as if he realized an inside joke, adding, “X-rated – hilarious.”

In more practical terms, Musk suggested the market-based approach should be based on a “cost tier” in which the safest content was priced higher than unsafe content, and advertisers could make the choice about the relative ROI of advertising in each tier.

“Advertisers who want the safest situation can have that,” he said, alluding that unsafe content adjacencies would “cost less per impression, or ultimately, less per sales of what they’re trying to sell,” because “that real estate is not as sought after.”

“Advertisers should be able to pick within four or five gradations,” he said, adding that as a consumer marketer himself vis a vis advertising his Starlink service, “I would say we would take it all. Who cares? That would be higher return.”

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