Elon Musk accused leaders of major civil rights organizations of breaking an accord with him by inspiring companies to stop advertising on Twitter. Such accusations have however been denied by the civil rights organizations.
On Tuesday, Musk had tweeted, “a large coalition of political/social activist groups agreed not to try to kill Twitter by starving us of advertising revenue if I agreed to this condition. They broke the agreement.”
Musk did not go into detail about the agreement. He was responding to a tweet from one of his followers, who accused Twitter’s new owner of lying when he said in October that he would form a content moderation council and that “no major content decisions or account reinstatements will take place until that council convenes.”
After conducting an informal poll on Twitter, Musk and the platform reinstated former President Donald Trump’s account, which had been permanently suspended under previous management following the Jan. 6 insurgency on the United States Capitol.
Twitter’s leadership in 2021 feared that Trump’s presence and continued use of the site would lead to more violence as he falsely claimed that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.
Multiple civil rights organizations urged advertisers to pause advertising on Twitter earlier this month, following a spike in hate speech on the site and the company’s layoff of thousands of employees, which they feared would impede the company’s ability to moderate hateful and other problematic content.
In reply to Musk’s claims on Tuesday, Derrick Johnson, CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, stated that civil rights organizations “would never make such a deal” and that “Democracy always comes first.”
“The decisions being made at Twitter are dangerous, and it is our duty, as it has been since our founding, to speak out against threats to our democracy,” Johnson said. “Hate speech and violent conspiracies can have no safe harbor.”
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Free Press said in a statement that there was “no such deal” with Musk.
“Musk is losing advertisers because he’s acted irresponsibly, slashing content moderation teams that help keep brands safe and gutting the very sales teams responsible for maintaining relationships with advertisers,” the Free Press said in a statement. “The main person responsible for the Twitter advertiser exodus is Elon Musk.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s global social action agenda, called Musk’s tweet “vague.” Last week, the SWC and 180 other nongovernmental organizations wrote to Musk, urging him to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in order to “degrade the marketing capabilities of antisemites on the social media platform.”
Cooper stated that the letter “wasn’t a threat” and that the organizations did not “threaten any boycott” of Twitter.
“We’re basically asking Elon Musk, who we all know is a rather creative person, to take leadership in this area,” Cooper said. He said his organization has seen a noticeable increase in antisemitic content over the past two weeks.
According to reports quoting informaiton from internal Twitter communications, ad agencies and brands that halted Twitter advertising after Musk’s acquisition of the microblogging platform are currently waiting for updates from the company on changes to the company’s leadership, specifically those related to teams that are tasked with ensuring brand safety.
the agencies and brands also want to know the future functioning of Twitter Blue verification, as well as how the social media company stop any brand impersonation on the platform.
Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter launched and then quickly discontinued a Twitter Blue Verified subscription service following many incidents of users who simply bought the badges were also able to impersonate celebrities, politicians, and brands.
For instance, a fake account impersonating the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly tweeted, “we are excited to announce insulin is now free.” The company rushed to correct the error and suspend the impersonator’s account.
Advertisers are concerned about more than just the issues raised by civil rights leaders. They also wanted assurances that, with so many employees resigning or being laid off, Twitter will be safe from hackers, and they want more communication from new leadership about product and company changes.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)