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Elon Musk explains the advertisement fiasco on X, seeks to make amends with the industry

Speaking to Mark Read, CEO, WPP, at Cannes Lions 2024, he said that advertisers can avoid content they dislike but cannot dictate X's policies.

Elon Musk, the owner of X (formerly Twitter) and CEO of Tesla, spoke at Cannes Lions 2024 on June 19. In a discussion with WPP CEO, Mark Read, he tried to make peace with the advertising industry.

This comes after he told advertisers to "go f*** yourself" in a widely known interview with New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin in 2023.

About his comments last year, he explained that he was not talking to advertisers as a whole.

“In some cases, there were advertisers who were insisting on censorship. And at the end of the day … if you’re forced to make a choice between censorship and money or free speech and losing money, we’re going to pick the second – we’re going to support free speech rather than agree to be censored for money, which is, I think, the right moral decision,” Musk said during his session.

He said he supports brands' "freedom of choice" in their media spending and understands their need for brand safety.

“Advertisers have a right to appear next to content that they find compatible with their brands. That’s totally cool. But what is not cool is insisting that there can be no content that they disagree with on the platform.”

Read also asked Musk if he regrets any posts he has made or shared on X.

“I mean not every post I make is a banger,” Musk added.

In November 2023, Musk supported a post on X about an antisemitic conspiracy theory, causing more tension with marketers. He often shares his views on politics and world events on X. He said it is better to be genuine than to use a filter.

Later in the conversation, Musk explained how X’s ad system works. “We are focussed on having ads be shown to people who would find the ad interesting,” he said. He also urged brands to use X, highlighting that many major decision-makers are on the platform.

According to a report by Ad Age, Musk had a private meeting in Cannes on June 19 with a small group of marketers. He aimed to reassure them about the platform's safety for brands, among other things.

Musk spent about 90 minutes with approximately 20 top marketing officers and other senior executives from companies like the NFL, L’Oréal, Diageo, Bayer, Adobe, American Eagle, Qualcomm, and Target, as reported by sources familiar with the situation.

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