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Activists say Elon Musk has only himself to blame for Twitter’s ad problems

by SuperiorInvest

Leaders of major human rights groups deny the allegations Elon Muskwho said they broke their deal with him by asking the companies to stop advertising on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Musk said on Twitter that “a grand coalition of political/social activist groups agreed not to try to kill Twitter by starving us of ad revenue if I agree to that condition. They broke the deal.”

Musk did not elaborate on the deal. He was responding to one of his followers who accused the new owner of Twitter of lying he promised in October that they would form a content moderation board and that “no major decisions about content or account renewal will be made until that board meets.”

Over the weekend, after launching an informal vote on Twitter, Musk and the platform restored former President Donald Trump’s account, which was permanently suspended under the previous administration following the Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol.

In 2021, Twitter management feared that Trump’s presence and continued use of the site could lead to further violence as he continued to falsely claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

Earlier this month, several human rights groups he insisted advertisers suspended advertising on Twitter after a spike in hate speech on the site and after the company laid off thousands of employees, a move they feared would hinder the company’s ability to moderate hateful and other problematic content.

Derrick Johnson, CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in response to Musk’s claims on Tuesday that rights groups would “never do a deal like this” and that “democracy always comes first.”

“The decisions on Twitter are dangerous and it is our duty, as we have been since our founding, to speak out against threats to our democracy,” Johnson said. “Hate speech and violent plots can have no safe harbor.”

In a statement to CNBC, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Free Press echoed Johnson’s sentiment, saying there was “no such agreement” with Musk.

“Musk is losing advertisers because he has acted irresponsibly, slashing the content moderation teams that help keep brands safe and gutting the very sales teams responsible for maintaining advertiser relationships,” Free Press said in a statement. “The main person responsible for the exodus of advertisers on Twitter is Elon Musk.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of the global agenda for social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told CNBC that he found Musk’s tweet “unclear.” SWC, along with 180 other NGOs, sent a letter to Musk last week urging Twitter to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in order to “degrade the marketing capabilities of anti-Semites on the social media platform.”

Cooper said the letter “was not threatening” and that the groups “did not threaten any boycott” of Twitter.

“We’re basically asking Elon Musk, who we all know is more of a creative person, to take the lead in this area,” Cooper said. He said his organization had seen a noticeable increase in anti-Semitic content over the past two weeks.

According to internal Twitter communications obtained by CNBC, agencies and brands that suspended advertising on Twitter after Musk took over the company are now awaiting updates on changes in the company’s leadership, specifically the teams working on brand safety. They also want answers to questions about how Twitter Blue authentication will work in the future and how Twitter plans to prevent impersonation.

Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter took off, and fast rolled back Twitter Blue Verified subscription service after users who bought badges could impersonate celebrities, politicians and brands. For example, an account created in the form of a pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly published false tweets said: “We are thrilled to announce that insulin is now free.” The company sought to correct the misinformation and suspend the impersonator’s account.

Advertisers’ concerns are not limited to the issues raised by civil rights advocates. They also wanted assurances that Twitter would be safe from hackers because so many employees are quitting or being laid off, and they want more communication from new management about changes to the product and the company.

WATCHES: Musk says Twitter Blue will relaunch on November 29

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