Disney Vs. Musk: Right-Wing X Users Push For Disney+ Cancellations As Disney Pulls Ads

Published 2 months ago
By Forbes | Brian Bushard
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(Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

TOPLINE

Hours after Elon Musk told companies to “go f***” themselves for pulling their advertisements from X over concerns about antisemitism—and called out Disney CEO Bob Iger by name—a group of right-wing users on the social media platform have called for Disney+ subscribers to cancel their accounts.

KEY FACTS

Multiple right-wing accounts on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, called on subscribers to Disney’s streaming service Disney+ to cancel their subscriptions, with the X account End Wokeness posting instructions for cancellation with the caption: “Stop giving money to people that hate you.”

Those calls follow Disney’s decision earlier this month to suspend its advertising on the social media platform, joining a growing list of companies including Apple, IBM, Lionsgate and Xfinity, following the release of a scathing report that found advertisements on X alongside pro-Nazi posts, and after Musk endorsed a post widely condemned as antisemitic.

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Disney’s decision to stop running ads on X could cost the social media platform millions of dollars, while X users’ calls for a boycott of Disney+ would have to reach many of its 146 million subscribers (as of August) to have an equivalent effect.

Speaking at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit on Wednesday, Musk accused advertisers that left the platform of “blackmailing” him with money and crudely told them to “go f**k themselves,” while addressing Iger in the crowd, saying, “hi Bob.”

Iger, also speaking at the summit, said he has “a lot of respect for Elon and what he’s accomplished,” but took exception with Musk’s endorsement of the post on X, saying: “By him taking the position that he took in quite a public manner, we just felt that the association with that position and Elon Musk and X was not necessarily a positive one for us.”

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CONTRA

X could lose as much as $75 million in lost advertising revenue due to more than a dozen companies including Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Disney, IBM, Microsoft and Xfinity pulling out, the New York Times reported.

KEY BACKGROUND

IBM became one of the first in a string of high-profile advertisers to suspend its ads on the platform this month, after a report from left-wing watchdog Media Matters for America found advertisements for the company—as well as Apple, Oracle and Xfinity—appeared near neo-Nazi posts and posts praising Adolf Hitler. Musk suggested the watchdog went out of its way to achieve the result, claiming the finding represented a wildly different experience from that of a typical user. X Corp. later filed a defamation lawsuit against Media Matters. Musk also came under fire after he shared a post on X in which a user claimed “Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them,” an argument Musk called “the actual truth.” The White House also condemned that post, issuing a statement calling the claim an “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate.” Musk on Wednesday apologized for the post and admitted it was “one of the most foolish, if not the most foolish, thing I’ve done” on the platform.

BIG NUMBER

$7.2 billion. That’s how much Disney spent on advertisements in fiscal year 2022, surpassing its advertising budget in 2021 ($5.5 billion) and 2020 ($4.7 billion).

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TANGENT

Disney became the latest in a wave of major companies to draw the ire of right-wing critics largely online. Earlier this year, Bud Light drew massive pushback among right-wingers, including pundits Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro, after the beer brand launched a partnership with transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney. Fast food chain Chick-fil-A also came under fire after right-wing online circles expressed outrage over its hiring of a director of diversity, equity and inclusion in 2021, while Adidas faced right-wing pushback for a marketing campaign that included trans-inclusive swimwear. Target additionally faced right-wing blowback online for an LGBTQ Pride product line. In response to the criticism, Target pulled items from that line in late May, just a week before the start of Pride month, claiming in a statement that threats and criticism it received over the products were “impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being,” though the move also sparked pushback in LGBTQ circles over claims the company caved to right-wing blowback.

FURTHER READING

Elon Musk Says Advertisers That Have Left X Shouldn’t Come Back (Forbes)

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