- Advocacy groups sent a letter to Twitter advertisers, urging them to push Musk to embrace content moderation or suspend ads.
- General Mills, GM, Audi, and other brands have suspended ads on the platform since Musk’s takeover.
- “Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue,” Musk tweeted Friday, citing the pressure on advertisers.
Advertisers have been suspending their use of Twitter to promote their brands following Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of the social platform, leading to a “massive drop in revenue,” the new owner tweeted Friday.
The #StopToxicTwitter coalition, a growing group of advocacy organizations and media watchdogs including Media Matters for America, Accountable Tech, and the NAACP, has urged major Twitter advertisers to push Musk to embrace content moderation or boycott the platform entirely over worries of increasing extremism and hate speech.
“Within 24 hours of Musk taking ownership, the platform was inundated with hate and disinformation,” read an open letter to brands including Amazon, HBO, and Apple sent by the coalition, citing reports that use of N-word on Twitter jumped by almost 500% after Musk’s takeover and Musk’s own recent tweets sharing conspiracy theories about the attack on Paul Pelosi. “Without deliberate efforts by Twitter to address this type of abuse and hate, your brands will be actively supporting accelerating extremism.”
Major brands including General Mills, GM, and Audi have suspended advertisements on the platform since the purchase, with several citing concerns over brand safety on the platform, which Musk tweeted about on Friday.
“Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists,” Musk tweeted, though staff previously in charge of content moderation and the verification of political figures have been fired since the acquisition was finalized.
“Extremely messed up!” Musk added. “They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”
The self-described “free speech absolutist” has pledged to make the social media platform akin to a “digital town square” that adheres to first amendment speech protections, but advertisers have expressed concern over their brands being displayed next to constitutionally protected but distasteful or hateful content.
“At this moment, we cannot confidently state that Twitter is a safe place for brands,” Interpublic Group, an advertising agency, told The Wall Street Journal of its decision to suspend ads.
According to the #StopToxicTwitter coalition, mass layoffs at Twitter have made it impossible for the platform to adhere to content moderation standards that act as critical brand safeguards, despite Musk’s assurances that no changes to the content moderation policies have been implemented.
“Elon Musk has demonstrated that it’s not possible for him to keep the brand safeguards that have existed on Twitter in place. There’s no more time for trust but verify, it’s time for escalation,” Angelo Carusone, president and CEO of Media Matters for America, a #StopToxicTwitter coalition member, said in a statement emailed to Insider. Carusone said Musk must earn back advertisers’ trust and has so far been unwilling to do so. He is calling on brands to leave the platform to protect their integrity.
“If they don’t leave now, advertising on Twitter will be akin to advertising on Parler before the January 6 insurrection,” Carusone added.
Musk and representatives for Twitter did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.