The Walt Disney Company and several other firms pulled advertising from X, formerly known as Twitter, after accusing the platform's CEO Elon Musk of endorsing an anti-Semitic post in November 2023. But claims that the withdrawal triggered a boycott costing Disney+ millions of subscribers are false; they stem from a satirical website that publishes made-up stories.

"Disney has lost 23 Million Subscribers after trying to cancel Elon Musk,'" says a December 1, 2023 X post.

RTL

© AFP

Other examples of the claim have circulated elsewhere on XFacebook and TikTok in multiple languages.

They come after Musk on November 15 endorsed a post saying Jewish communities are pushing a "dialectical hatred against whites." The statement prompted a flood of departures from X of major advertisers -- including Disney, Apple, Comcast and IBM, who accused Musk of echoing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

The billionaire apologized for the post and responded to the backlash in an interview with columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times DealBook Summit. In an expletive-filled tirade, Musk called out Disney CEO Bob Iger and accused advertisers who turned away from X of "blackmail" (archived here).

However, there is no evidence Disney's move has affected its streaming subscribers -- the statistic shared online comes from a satirical website called the Dunning-Kruger Times.

"Everything on this website is fiction," says a disclaimer on the website (archived here).

The Dunning-Kruger Times is part of America's Last Line of Defense, a network of websites that "publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news," according to NewsGuard, a company that rates websites' credibility.

The sites are run by Christopher Blair, who told AFP in 2020 that "confirmation bias" leads people to believe and share the articles.

Although Disney+ has seen a dip in subscribers since its boom during the pandemic, there is no evidence the streaming service has lost 23 million.

Disney's latest earnings report came out November 8, before the company pulled ads from X. The document shows 112.6 million core Disney+ subscribers -- down from 118.1 million two years earlier (archived here).

Based on last year's reporting dates (archived here), the next report could come in February 2024.

AFP contacted Disney for additional comment, but no response was forthcoming.