Science, Technology, and Social Media

The Advertising Industry Is Proving They Can’t Stand Free Speech

Advertisers have been staying away from Twitter ever since Tesla CEO Elon Musk acquired the social media platform in October and decreased its censorship, including a nearly 60% drop recently, according to a Monday report by The New York Times.

Twitter’s advertising revenue dropped 59%, amounting to $88 million, during the five weeks from April 1 to the first week of May compared to the same period in 2022, according to an internal presentation obtained by the NYT. Multiple major companies have decreased or paused spending at Twitter since Musk took over the company, with ad agencies citing misinformation and hate speech as reasons why.

Apple, Amazon and Disney are some of the largest advertisers who have cut spending at Twitter since last year, according to employees who spoke to the NYT. Six advertising agency executives who have collaborated with Twitter told the NYT that their clients persisted in curbing spending on the platform, citing the continued presence of supposedly deceptive and dangerous content.

Left-wing dark money group North Fund created a project called Accountable Tech, which led an effort to pressure advertisers to stop spending on Twitter in November, according to the project’s website.

Accountable Tech headed a letter to top Twitter advertisers to pressure them to “demand non-negotiable requirements for their ad business in the midst of Elon Musk’s acquisition,” according to its website.

Twitter “has taken welcome steps in recent years to mitigate systemic risks, ratcheting up pressure on the likes of Facebook and YouTube to follow suit,” the letter states. “Musk intends to steamroll those safeguards and provide a megaphone to extremists who traffic in disinformation, hate, and harassment. Under the guise of ‘free speech,’ his vision will silence and endanger marginalized communities, and tear at the fraying fabric of democracy.”

Left-wing billionaire and media donor Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network has helped fund Accountable Tech with hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to its grants database.

The NYT document also revealed that Twitter has consistently failed to meet sales targets in the U.S., occasionally by up to 30%.

“We could be profitable, or to be more precise, cash flow positive this quarter if things keep going well,” Musk said in a BBC interview in April. “I think almost all advertisers have come back or said they are going to come back.”

The chances of advertising revenue improving in the near future are slim, according to the documents and seven past and present Twitter employees who spoke to the NYT.

Twitter’s advertising sales team is expressing concern over possible advertiser apprehension due to an alleged uptick in hate speech, pornography and advertisements related to online gambling and marijuana products on the platform, according to the NYT.

Twitter has projected a decline of at least 56% in its weekly U.S. advertising revenue in June compared to last year, according to an internal document. Ads account for 90% of Twitter’s ad revenue, according to the NYT.

Musk announced that NBCUniversal advertising executive Linda Yaccarino would replace him as CEO of Twitter in May. Yaccarino is anticipated to begin her new role on Monday, four individuals familiar with the matter told the NYT.

Twitter responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment with a poop emoji, its automatic response to all press emails.

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Jason Cohen

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Jason Cohen
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