Elon’s ‘X’ introduces sensitivity controls in bid to win back advertisers

—The social media platform is trying to lure back buyers concerned about safety and content, after Musk revealed a 50% drop in ad revenue— 

By Ewan Larkin

In the latest round of announcements from X (formerly Twitter), Elon Musk has revealed the introduction of sensitivity controls to lure back advertisers put off by ongoing security and content issues plaguing the social media network.

The new controls allow advertisers to choose between three settings: conservative and standard, which are already available, and relaxed, which will be added soon.

The new “sensitivity settings” will use “machine learning to reduce adjacency to varying levels of content according to a brand’s sensitivity threshold.” However, X will still block all content in breach of its policies from appearing next to ads, regardless of the advertiser’s settings.

Under the new sensitivity measures, the “conservative” category ads will not be presented alongside any content that promotes hate speech, sexually explicit material, violence, profanity, abuse, spam, or drugs.

For “standard” controls, drug-related content will be omitted, as well as hate speech and spam; while “relaxed” will restrict the display of sexually explicit and hate speech material, targeting brands looking for mass reach for audiences.

With ad revenues dipping by 50%, this update is the most recent in a round of changes announced at the social media company, which previously introduced other keyword-based “adjacency controls” in a bid to restrict advertiser exposure to problematic content.

However, this seems to have had a minimal effect with buyers, who remain watchful of Musk and new CEO Linda Yaccarino’s strategic direction for X.

In July this year, the Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) centre revealed that hate speech had surged since Musk had taken over, resulting in the billionaire suing the group for alleged illegal scraping of data from the platform.

Yesterday, Australia’s broadcast corporation ABC also announced it will be shutting down almost all of its official accounts on Twitter, citing “toxic interactions,” cost, and exploring other platforms. Only four official accounts for Australia’s public broadcaster will remain active: @abcnews, @abcsport, @abcchinese and @abcaustralia.

“Starting from today, other ABC accounts will be discontinued,” David Anderson, managing director for ABC shared with staff, in accordance with a report from The Guardian.

Musk has retaliated by accusing the ABC of embracing censorship.

Top photo: Getty Images

This story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific.