WIkimedia Commons / Daniel Oberhaus
Elon Musk appears at a press conference following one of his company SpaceX's launches.
Looks like Texas-based billionaire Elon Musk's pledge to bulk up ad revenue for Twitter while dialing back its content moderation may be as tough to deliver on as his promise to tunnel under some of San Antonio's priciest zip codes
The world's wealthiest man has claimed he wants to do both after dropping $44 billion to buy the social media platform. The former goal is understandable since advertising is Twitter's primary source of revenue.
But here's the problem: advertisers like stability, and they don't like seeing their brands associated with hate speech. Musk's volatile behavior and constant online trolling aren't doing much to quell their nervousness about what lies ahead.
Sure, Musk has said Twitter won't turn into a "free-for-all hellscape" under his rule. Just the same, some users are already assuming that the Telsa founder, who's prone to sharing baseless conspiracy theories
and obsessing over the evils of political correctness
, is ready to fire up the furnace.
The Network Contagion Research Institute found that in the 12 hours after Musk landed at Twitter headquarters, the use of the N-word on the network jumped 500%
If you're brand, that kinda shit doesn't inspire confidence in your ad buy.
"Adidas may not want its logo appearing alongside, say, antisemitic tweets," Washington Post economics columnist Catherine Rampell wrote
. "(If you don’t believe me, ask Kanye West, now known as Ye.) Family-friendly brands are probably not excited about appearing next to porn, either."
The departures are already starting.
Among others, General Mills Inc., Pfizer Inc. and car maker Audi have taken a break from advertising on Twitter, the Wall Street Journal reports
. One ad exec told the business publication that 20 of the firm's clients have already pulled their ads, according to the paper.
That occurs as top automakers Ford and GM also say they're not running ads on Twitter. Although rivals of Tesla in the electric vehicle market, both said they want to evaluate changes on the platform before spending there
In a tweet
, Musk blamed the advertiser flights on “activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.”
He continued: "Extremely messed up! They're trying to destroy free speech in America."
Elon can blame the activists all he wants. The reality is businesses are about protecting their own bottom lines, not catering an erratic billionaire's inflated ego.
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