Major carrier United Airlines in the United States has announced that it is suspending its advertising on Twitter amid growing concerns over the direction the social network will take under new owner Elon Musk. Since its takeover of Twitter last week, hate speech, misinformation and anti-Semitic content have proliferated on the platform. The billionaire of South African origin had for his part promised that he wanted to make total freedom of expression on the network.
A United Airlines spokesperson confirmed to Reuters on Friday that the company had suspended all advertising spending on Twitter. It’s the latest major company to take the step after food giant General Mills (which makes Cheerios), automaker Audi and pharmaceutical form Pfizer, all of which have paused their social media ads.
Bloomberg said Friday that Microsoft, HBO and Verizon are considering following suit, but prefer to take a more wait-and-see approach for now.
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On Friday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged advertisers to suspend their relationship with Twitter, harshly criticizing Musk.
A number of civil rights groups, including the ADL, a non-governmental organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and extremism, met with Musk this week to discuss the upsurge in hate speech, racial slurs, anti-Semitism, extremism and misinformation since he took the helm of the social network last week. The group also reportedly asked Musk to resume content moderation practices – they have been put on hold – and they also demanded that the integrity of the midterm elections taking place in the United States on Tuesday be guaranteed.
And so the ADL on Friday called on companies and advertisers to stop pouring money into Twitter. The Network Contagion Research Institute, a firm that monitors the spread of hate and misinformation online, said Twitter is experiencing a “prolific rise” in the latter and that “the most engaged tweets are overtly anti-Semitic.”
The Stop Hate For Profit coalition, a group of which the ADL is a member, said that since their meeting, “hate and misinformation have proliferated,” adding that Musk “has undertaken initiatives that make us fear the worst in the future. coming “.
At Twitter, the first week under the leadership of Elon Musk resembled a tornado: started with sleepless nights for some engineers, it ended with the dismissal of half the staff.
“It was a very strange week. Executives were fired, others resigned, but there was no official communication from management until Thursday evening, ”says a former employee, on condition of anonymity.
The employees received a first email informing them that they would be fixed on their fate on Friday. The next day, the second confirmed the rumors: 50% of the workforce are thanked.
On the front line, the marketing and design departments, and the managers. Content moderation was more spared, with a dismissal rate of only 15%, according to Yoel Roth, the site’s security manager.
After 24 hours of silence on the subject, Elon Musk ended up tweeting that there was “unfortunately no other choice when the company is losing more than four million dollars a day” and that “everyone who has lost their jobs were offered three months of compensation”.
The decision did not surprise the employees – the rumors were insistent – but the brutality of the method shocked.
Separately, Musk indicated last week that he would not make major content decisions or restore banned accounts until a “content moderation board” is formed that will consolidate points of diverse views. He repeated that view last Wednesday, adding that the council will include “civilian communities and groups that are targets of hate-motivated violence.”
Tesla’s CEO has publicly indicated he would allow ex-President Donald Trump to reopen an account, although Trump – who regularly touts the qualities of his own social media platform, Truth Social – has not done so. know if he wanted to come back.
The civil rights group had urged, during its meeting with Trump, that Twitter establish a transparent process for how the network wants to reauthorize accounts that had been banned.
Twitter banned Trump last year, three days after the former Republican president’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6 following his defeat in the 2020 election. under investigation for federal crimes in connection with that attack, a violent event that prompted a House investigation.
Musk took control of Twitter after buying the platform for $44 billion.
About 90% of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising – but the social network is far from the most popular among digital advertising professionals. Google, Amazon and Meta together attract 75% of digital campaigns, with the other platforms combined making up the remaining 25%.
Twitter will account for 0.9% of global internet advertising spending in 2022, according to Insider Intelligence forecasts, compared to 21.4% for Meta.
Twitter lost the majority of its executives last week, including the head of advertising sales.