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Hyundai pauses X ads over pro-Nazi content on the platform

The move came after a Hyundai ad appeared next to antisemitic posts from a user who has posted pro-Hitler content.
Attendees take photos of the 2025 Hyundai Tucson sports utility vehicle
The 2025 Hyundai Tucson sports utility vehicle at a release event at the New York International Auto Show last month.Bing Guan / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The automaker Hyundai said it had paused its advertising on Elon Musk’s social media app, X, after a sponsored post from the company appeared next to antisemitic and pro-Nazi posts.

Hyundai confirmed the pause in a statement to NBC News late Wednesday and said it was taking its brand safety concerns to Musk’s company. 

“We have paused our ads on X and are speaking to X directly about brand safety to ensure this issue is addressed,” Hyundai said in the statement. 

Nancy Levine Stearns, a freelance journalist and X user, posted a screenshot Wednesday of a Hyundai ad running on an X account that often posts Holocaust denial and antisemitism. Stearns has written about brand safety on X for Hill Reporter, a progressive news site. 

Joe Benarroch, head of business operations at X, confirmed the Hyundai pause in an email Thursday in response to questions. He said X was working with Hyundai’s marketers to put in place further brand safety controls. 

X also suspended the account that made the antisemitic posts. The account’s bio included antisemitic tropes that violated X’s policy against abusive profiles, Benarroch said. A note on the account Thursday afternoon said it was “temporarily unavailable” because it violated policy. 

Benarroch also said a Holocaust-denial post that appeared adjacent to a Hyundai ad would get a label as violating X’s policy on “violent event denial.” 

On Tuesday, an NBC News investigation documented how X has become a hub for pro-Nazi content. X’s policies ban glorifying violence and praising violent entities. 

Hyundai is the world’s third-largest automaker by sales volume, after Toyota and Volkswagen. Its headquarters are in South Korea, and its brands include Kia. 

The recent Hyundai ad in question ran on the profile of a user who has defended Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and pushed antisemitic conspiracy theories. Before Thursday’s suspension, the account said it was based in Australia. It posted under a pseudonym and had more than 55,000 followers.

The account for months has had a blue checkmark signaling that it is a paid “Premium” subscriber. This month, X began giving blue checkmarks to some unpaid users with more than 2,500 verified followers, making it more difficult to determine who is a paid subscriber, but the account in question has had its blue checkmark for longer. 

NBC News reported Tuesday that under Musk’s ownership, X has become a thriving spot for explicitly pro-Nazi content, including speeches by Hitler or content praising his genocidal regime. NBC News found that at least 150 paid “Premium” subscriber accounts and thousands of unpaid accounts had posted or amplified pro-Nazi content in recent months, often in apparent violation of X’s rules. 

Some pro-Nazi content has spread widely, including a post last month with 1.9 million views promoting a false and long-debunked conspiracy theory that 6 million Jews did not die in the Holocaust. On Thursday, X added a label to the post, saying: “Visibility limited: this Post may violate X’s rules against Hateful Conduct.” 

NBC News found ads running on 74 of the 150 “Premium” accounts, either on their profile pages or in the replies below their posts. 

Another X advertiser, IQAir, said it was adjusting its settings on the platform after NBC News found one of its ads running adjacent to Holocaust denial. IQAir, a Swiss company that makes air quality devices and software, said it was already using X’s features designed to let advertisers target certain audiences and exclude other audiences. 

“Our advertisements are set up so that ideally, they do not allow X to reach accounts beyond our target audience,” the company said in an email. 

“However, based on the screen shot you provided, it appears that did not occur in this case,” it said. The company said it did not know why its ad would appear next to extremist content. 

X offers advertisers a feature called “negative targeting” designed to stop ads from being placed near certain keywords. However, the system does not by default include all potentially problematic keywords. IQAir said it was adding a Holocaust denial hashtag to its list of excluded keywords, and X said it was demonetizing searches for the same hashtag and making the hashtag ineligible to appear in trending lists or in search results. 

“We do not condone our advertisements running in conjunction with this or any other form of extremist content,” IQAir said. 

X said it had suspended one account whose Holocaust-denial post had appeared next to an IQAir ad. The account had an abusive profile, Benarroch said. X also applied a label for “hateful conduct” to another antisemitic post, he said.

NBC News does not have a comprehensive list of advertisers that use X. Each account on social media sees different ads at different times, so it is unknown how many advertisers’ ads have run next to pro-Nazi content or Holocaust denial posts. 

X has faced a widespread advertiser backlash since November, when Musk embraced the “great replacement theory,” which says there is a top-down plot to replace the white population with nonwhite people. Musk responded to a post by a conspiracy theorist by saying, “You have said the actual truth.” 

Dozens of major advertisers, including Disney, Apple and Warner Bros., halted their advertising on X, and as of February many had not resumed. According to the research firm Sensor Tower, 75 out of the top 100 U.S. advertisers on X from October 2022 were not buying ads as of February. 

Musk visited Israel later in November and traveled to the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in January. 

Musk, also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, said after the Auschwitz visit that he did not know much about antisemitism and considered himself “Jewish by association.” 

“I must admit to being somewhat frankly naive about this. In the circles that I move, I see almost no antisemitism. … Two-thirds of my friends are Jewish,” he said.