Tuesday October 04, 2022

Advertisers are reassured by Twitter that Musk will not make the platform a more toxic hell-hole than it is already

Twitter reportedly reached out to advertising agencies to assure them that Elon Musk’s plans will not make the platform hostile to brands. Musk has said that Twitter will adopt a maximalist approach towards “free speech” under his control, perhaps removing content that is illegal. Experts have pointed out that this would mean the lifting of restrictions on a number of undesirable but legal forms speech, including Nazi propaganda and ISIS beheading videos, to medical misinformation. These are content corporations don’t want to be associated, even indirectly.
According to The Financial Times email, Twitter reached out to agencies to address such fears. They informed them that their advertisements for big brands will not appear alongside offensive content. Although the report doesn’t provide any additional details, it reflects widespread concerns that Musk’s leadership could lead to an increase in hateful and harmful speech on Twitter.
Already, campaign groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have expressed concern about Musk’s leadership being a boon for anti-semitic voices.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO at the ADL, stated that “We know firsthand how hate and extremism can lead to physical violence against Jews and other marginalized groups.” “Twitter has made some progress in combating this hate in recent years. We are cautiously optimistic about Elon Musk’s future as the platform’s chief executive, but he hasn’t shown any interest in these issues. We fear he might take things in a completely different direction.
Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, released a statement stating that “Mr. Musk” is free to express his opinions, but that hate speech was unacceptable. Disinformation, misinformation, and hate speech have NO place on Twitter. Johnson mentioned the possibility Musk might allow President Donald Trump to re-enter Twitter. This would allow the platform become “a petri plate for hate speech or falsehoods that subvert democracy.”
The ADL initiated a boycott of advertising on Facebook in 2020 to protest the company’s hate speech policies. The ADL claimed that the campaign had only led to “incremental” changes, while Facebook’s advertising revenue remained unaffected.
Twitter’s small size makes it more vulnerable to coordinated advertising efforts. It generated $4.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2021, compared to $114 million for Meta, the Facebook-owner. Musk has stated that he isn’t buying the company for the money and is only interested in his ideological goals. These comments should be taken with a grain of salt (Twitter isn’t a money-spinner, but has benefited Musk in other ways), but they do suggest that any loss of ad revenue won’t be an immediate concern.

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