*Somebody’s gonna find out real soon that the #StopToxicTwitter coalition ain’t playin’ around. On Monday, the coalition sent letters to Anheuser-Busch and Apple that call on the companies to join the mass exodus of advertisers from Twitter and stop all advertising on the platform. Anheuser-Busch and Apple are two of the largest advertisers to remain on the platform and have accounted for millions of dollars in advertising revenue in the five months since Elon Musk took over the social-media company.
“We would urge that continued advertisement on Twitter is detrimental to Anheuser-Busch’s reputation,” the coalition wrote to the company’s U.S. CEO, Brendan Whitworth. Continuing to advertise on Twitter, the letter reads, is “out of step with Anheuser-Busch’s own policy on human rights, which states that Anheuser-Busch has a ‘responsibility to respect and promote human rights within our own company and to not, knowingly, contribute to the violations of human rights by other parties.’”
The letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook notes that the company’s ads are “now featured next to some of the most toxic content on Twitter.” New research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has revealed a number of Apple ads next to hateful content, including an ad for Apple TV adjacent to a misogynistic post from self-professed neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin.
#StopToxicTwitter gave Whitworth and Cook a deadline of March 20 to schedule meetings with coalition leaders to address widespread concerns about Twitter’s failure to protect brands and keep its users safe from the spread of hate and disinformation.
Organizations signing the letter to the two CEOs include Free Press, Media Matters for America, Accountable Tech and CCDH. In research released in February, CCDH documented multiple occasions where Twitter owner Elon Musk failed to honor his pledge to protect the brand safety of Twitter’s remaining advertisers, including instances where ads from Anheuser-Busch, Apple and other major brands appeared next to tweets from self-proclaimed neo-Nazis and others are known for publishing hateful content and dangerous conspiracy theories.
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Last November, Musk reneged on his commitment to civil-rights leaders to moderate content. #StopToxicTwitter has urged the platform’s largest advertisers to pull their Twitter ads unless and until Musk commits to better brand safeguards and content-moderation standards.
Recent reports reveal that 625 of Twitter’s top 1,000 advertisers had pulled their ads as of January, fearing that their brands wouldn’t be safe under Musk’s erratic leadership. The advertiser departure contributed to a 70-percent drop in Twitter’s December revenue over the previous year, according to Standard Media Index.
Twitter’s technological stability has deteriorated as well. The New York Times reported that in February alone, Twitter experienced at least four widespread outages, compared with nine in all of 2022.
“Civil-rights groups have been pushing Musk to make needed changes since his first days as CEO, and he’s failed to fulfill many of his promises to safeguard Twitter users and protect advertiser-brand safety,” said Jessica J. González, Free Press co-CEO and #StopToxicTwitter co-lead. “The results of these failures are now obvious: Twitter, as a business is in a death spiral as hundreds of advertisers, have joined the mass exodus from the platform for fear that their brands will be associated with white supremacists, misogynists, and conspiracy theorists. We’re now sending advertisers the receipts — evidence of their ads supporting those who are peddling election lies, racism, vaccine disinformation, and other toxic content. On March 20, we will know if Anheuser-Busch and Apple plan to take our demands seriously. We want to meet face to face and urge them to stop all advertising unless and until Musk strengthens Twitter’s content moderation. Musk has failed to protect Anheuser-Busch and Apple brands. In return, they should stop allowing their advertising dollars to prop up a rapidly declining platform to the detriment of everyone.”
Fixing Twitter will require a series of measures to reverse Musk’s dangerous policy decisions, reinvest in content moderation and enforcement, and restructure the governance of the platform. Members of the coalition have repeatedly reached out to Musk and Twitter staff with a series of recommendations to make Twitter safer.
Musk, however, has shown no intention to adopt such measures and no desire to combat racism. Earlier this month, Musk came to the defense of Scott Adams after the “Dilbert” cartoonist launched into a racist rant where he described the Black community as a “hate group” and urged white people to “get the hell away from Black people.” Musk tweeted that the “media is racist,” claiming that white people are the main victims of such discrimination.
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