—IBM has paused advertising on the social platform by Elon Musk after its ads, and those of several other major brands, appeared next to pro-Nazi content—
Global tech company IBM announced on Thursday that they will stop advertising on X, formerly known as Twitter, after its ads were found to have appeared alongside pro-Nazi tweets on the social platform owned by Elon Musk.
“IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation,” the company said in a statement to the Financial Times.
The left-wing nonprofit Media Matters for America released a report on Thursday that named IBM as one of several well-known companies, among them Apple, Bravo, Oracle and Xfinity, whose advertisements had been displayed next to tweets endorsing National Socialism, memes depicting Nazism as a spiritual awakening, and quotes from Adolf Hitler.
IBM’s retreat is the most recent setback to X CEO Linda Yaccarino’s efforts to entice back advertisers who have abandoned the website since Musk acquired it a little over a year ago. Although Musk was successful in his attempt to reduce the site’s speech limitations by laying off employees responsible for moderating objectionable content, the company’s operations have suffered, and X’s ad revenue has gone down each month since Musk’s takeover. Musk revealed in September that since he acquired the business, X’s U.S. advertising revenue had decreased by 60%.
IBM’s decision to halt advertising was made the day after Musk expressed his approval with an antisemitic conspiracy theory on the website.
Musk was responding to a user on X who said that Jews were to blame for the surge in online antisemitism because they supported “hordes of minorities” and encouraged “hatred against Whites.” The individual expressed their lack of empathy for Jews who encounter harsh remarks like “Hitler was right.”
The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel.
This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat.
It is not right and needs to stop.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 15, 2023
Musk amplified the user’s post to his enormous online following by responding, “You have said the actual truth.” Musk continued his criticism of the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit that fights extremism and antisemitism, in a later tweet, claiming that the organisation “unjustly attacks the majority of the West” for spreading anti-Semitic sentiment instead of focusing on “the minority groups who are their primary threat.”
X has lost droves of advertisers and users
According to Insider Intelligence, X will earn US $1.89 billion in advertising income this year, a 54% decrease from 2022. Its $1.99 billion in ad revenue in 2015 was the last time it was close to this amount. It was $4.12 billion in 2022.
It’s not just advertisers that X has lost. According to web traffic tracking company SimilarWeb, X lost more than half a billion visits worldwide in September alone. In more than 140 of the 176 countries where the site was operational, there was a fall in users.
The service has also seen a 30% decline in the number of people actively tweeting, according to a report by the Washington Post.
Last month a new clickbait ad format emerged on X that cannot be blocked or reported. The new ad format doesn’t make it clear that it is an advertisement or who is behind it. Unlike the majority of other websites that feature clickbait advertising, X withholds the identity of the ad network that is responsible for these adverts.
In another effort to bolster revenue streams, X is also reportedly testing a new subscription service that can restrict the amount of adverts that are seen by users. According to Bloomberg, in a meeting with X’s creditors, CEO Linda Yaccarino stated that the business would launch three membership tiers for users, allowing it to make more money from customers who were not likely to pay the full cost of the premium subscription.
Since acquiring Twitter in October 2022, a number of the changes that Musk has made have drawn criticism from the platforms users, including the decision to abandon its previous method of verifying well-known individuals in favour of a subscription-based service. Moreover, Musk undid the company’s policies against spreading false information about COVID-19, restored the accounts of users who had previously been banned, and dismantled the teams in charge of policing the site to remove harmful content.
This story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)