During the DealBook Summit 2023 summit last Wednesday in New York, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk commented on his decision to stop using the social media app TikTok after feeling that the platform’s artificial intelligence was “probing” your mind.
Musk also noted that TikTok has significant anti-Semitic content and that, in his opinion, young people are almost “religiously addicted” to the aforementioned social network. Additionally, he dismissed the idea that China’s government used the platform, owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, to manipulate the minds of American users. “And in terms of anti-Semitic content, I mean, TikTok is rife with that, as it has by far the most viral anti-Semitic content,” the tech mogul stated.
When interviewed by New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, the owner of It’s (discovering) what’s going to keep you glued to the screen.”
Musk’s appearance at the summit drew attention to the dynamics of popular social media and concerns around the addition to these platforms and the spread of harmful content. Elon Musk also addressed the issue of advertisers and recent controversies, while confirming a meeting with the president of Israel amidst a context of concerns about anti-Semitic content on networks. Evidently, his comments reflect the ongoing tensions between freedom on digital platforms and the responsibility to moderate and control the content that circulates on them.
With a strong stance on personal use of networks and the influence of artificial intelligence on the user experience, Musk’s statements have generated important debates about the security, privacy and psychological impact of social media applications like TikTok. The latter is an issue of increasing relevance not only in the United States but on the international scene, considering the rapid growth of the platform and its popularity among younger generations.
Before TikTok was branded as a social network full of anti-Semitic content, Elon Musk’s X-endorsed posts resulted in a backlash from brands, leading to a pause in their advertising campaigns and potentially a loss of up to 75%. million dollars in advertising revenue by the end of 2023.
More than 200 advertisers, including major companies such as IBM, Apple, Disney, Airbnb, Amazon, Coca-Cola and Microsoft, have stopped or are reevaluating their advertising on the platform, with advertising in the United States falling by almost 60%. This setback comes at a crucial time, as the last quarter of the year is typically the most lucrative for the company due to holiday promotions.
Since Musk’s acquisition of the social network, brands are reconsidering their participation in the platform due to content moderation policies and the increase in hate speech.