Biggest company advises pausing Twitter ads after Musk takeover
It’s not just Musk’s tweets that are causing problems. Some analysts have noted an increase in hate speech and misinformation since he took power — including a 500 percent increase in racial slurs, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute, an independent center that monitors online trends. And Twitter’s head of trust and security they said they removed 1,500 accounts who has been spreading hateful content since Saturday.
That’s the kind of dramatic increase that could drive away a lucrative business. “When big advertisers abandon brand safety concerns, no one really wants the dubious honor of replacing them,” said Nandini Jammi, co-founder of the watchdog group Check My Ads Institute.
Mediabrands – the media arm of advertising giant IPG – sent a letter to clients on Monday instructing them to stop advertising on Twitter by November 7, the person said. High-profile clients of the group include American Express, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss & Co. and Spotify, and the company manages more than $40 billion in advertising spent globally. The person declined to comment on whether any of the brands had suspended ads yet.
Katie Harbath, Facebook’s former director of public policy, said Musk now understands how complicated it is to manage the free flow of ideas and content while ensuring advertisers stay on the platform.
“Welcome to this world. This is how we all told you it would be,” she said. “To me, all this is astonishing. For someone who is smart, to seemingly be so naive.”
Musk has previously told advertisers that he doesn’t want the platform to become a “free-for-all hell” and wants it to be “warm and welcoming for everyone.”
Mediabrands recommended that its clients stop advertising on Twitter “until we are clearer about Twitter’s plans for trust and security and the organizational capacity to meet those obligations,” the person said.
The controversy rocking Twitter is also drawing attention on Capitol Hill.
“Free speech does not include spreading misinformation to reduce political violence,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is also chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Mediabrands’ outreach to clients came on the same day as the Global Alliance for Responsible Media’s announcement an open letter Twitter — which has called for improved security on the platform for advertisers. GARM is a cross-industry initiative formed by the World Federation of Advertisers to address harmful content on digital media platforms.
Sarah Personette, former Chief User Officer at Twitter, tweeted that she resigned on Friday. Earlier, she tweeted on Monday that Twitter is taking its partnership with GARM “seriously,” while tagging Musk.
Also, on Tuesday, 40 civil society groups wrote an open letter to the CEOs of Twitter’s top 20 advertisers — including Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta — urging them to stop advertising on Twitter globally if Musk continues to do things that “undermine brand safety and community standards by denying content moderation.”
Additionally, a dozen high-end brands represented by luxury advertising firm GroupM have said they want to stop advertising on Twitter if Donald Trump rejoins the platform, GroupM told the Wall Street Journal last friday. General Motors also announced last Friday also temporarily halted advertising on Twitter.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mediabrand’s letter.
Alfred Ng contributed reporting
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