Following the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, many companies have paused or stopped their advertising campaigns. A report from Media Matters for America said that over half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers are no longer advertising on the platform.
In September, Twitter promoted ads alongside child pornography. Some of the brands called Twitter out on this and either paused or suspended their ad campaigns.
Some advertisers that were not affected by Twitter’s accidental promotion of ads with child pornography continued to advertise with the platform. And some of these brands who did so paused their campaigns when Elon Musk took over.
A key issue is that in the past, Twitter has been lenient toward child predators, yet advertisers have been advertising with the platform for many years.
It wasn’t until Elon Musk bought the platform that Twitter made removing child sexual exploitation material priority number one. Some of these advertisers are only now pausing or suspending their ad campaigns after Elon Musk took over.
Removing child exploitation is priority #1. Please reply in comments if you see anything that Twitter needs to address.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2022
A Twitter spokesperson said that the platform “has zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation,” but there is a case where the platform refused to remove videos of two children being abused, and it took the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to step in for Twitter to remove the content.
The Media Matters report stated that Elon Musk “has continued his rash of brand unsafe actions — including amplifying conspiracy theories, unilaterally reinstating banned accounts such as that of former President Donald Trump, courting and engaging with far-right accounts, and instituting a haphazard verification scheme that allowed extremists and scammers to purchase a blue check. This last move, in particular, opened the platform up to various fraud and brand imitations.”
There was no mention of Twitter’s new priority number one, which is the removal of child pornography from its platform. Additionally, many of these brands continued to advertise while Trump was president and active on the platform.
The two following lists show companies that stopped advertising when Elon Musk took over and companies whose ads were published alongside explicit and illegal content.
Companies That Stopped Publishing Ads When Elon Musk Bought Twitter:
- Abbott Laboratories
- Allstate Corporation
- AMC Networks
- American Express Company
- Big Heart Petcare
- BlackRock, Inc.
- BlueTriton Brands, Inc.
- Boston Beer Company
- CA Lottery (California State Lottery)
- CenturyLink (Lumen Technologies, Inc.)
- Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.
- Citigroup, Inc.
- Discover Financial Services
- First National Realty Partners
- Heineken N.V.
- Hewlett-Packard (HP)
- Hilton Worldwide
- Inspire Brands, Inc.
- Kellogg Company
- Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc.
- LinkedIn Corporation
- MailChimp (The Rocket Science Group)
- Marriott International, Inc.
- Mars Petcare
- Mars, Incorporated
- Merck & Co. (Merck Sharp & Dohme MSD)*
- Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook, Inc.)
- MoneyWise (Wise Publishing, Inc.)
- Novartis AG
- Pernod Ricard
- The Coca-Cola Company
- The Kraft Heinz Company
- Tire Rack
- Wells Fargo
- Whole Foods Market IP
- Yum! Brands
Brands whose ads Twitter promoted alongside CSE Content.
There were over 30 brands affected, and the following list is just some of the brands that were reported to be affected.
- Walt Disney
- NBC Universal
- Cole Haan
- a children’s hospital
- PBS Kids
A spokesperson for both Disney and Coca-Cola spoke out against Twitter promoting their ads alongside the CSE content, yet NBCUniversal confirmed that it asked Twitter to remove the ads associated with the content.
David Maddocks, brand president at Cole Haan, told Reuters that either Twitter fixes this or Cole Haan would do so, including by not buying Twitter ads. Mazda USA also said it would be prohibiting its ads from appearing on Twitter profile pages.
Although a handful of brands were upset over Twitter’s promoting ads along CSE, many of those brands that quit Twitter following Elon Musk’s acquisition were advertising up until recently. This includes both brands who had their content promoted alongside child pornography as well as those who didn’t.
For all of these brands who continued to advertise despite Twitter’s problem with CSE, the question remains: is advertising with Elon Musk worse than alongside the exploitation of children?
This is a question Eliza Bleu had for General Motors when the automaker first suspended its campaign after Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform. Bleu is one of Twitter’s toughest critics who, up until recently, Twitter ignored. Elon Musk agrees with Bleu that CSE should be removed from the platform and has made it priority number one.
I would like to know too
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2022
“Twitter has a long history of knowingly refusing to remove child sexual abuse material at scale. This issue has been covered by the corporate media and called out by governments around the globe.”
“Over 32 brands removed ads from Twitter when the Reuters pieces came out in September of this year because of child sexual abuse material on Twitter. I think that General Motors’ lack of concern over sexually abused children says a lot. Survivors buy cars too. There are more survivors out there than these brands might think,” Bleu told Teslarati in October.
Bleu told Teslarati on Sunday that these brands only care about the world’s most vulnerable when it is politically advantageous.
“Where was the outrage, pearl-clutching, and solidarity for the minor survivors sexually exploited on Twitter over the past 10+ years?”
“These brands only care about the world’s most vulnerable when it’s politically advantageous. They only care about the vulnerable populations who buy products, vote, and have money. It’s manipulative and gaslighting.”
“Thank you to the brands who took a stand against Twitter in September over this very real crime. My hope is that under the new leadership, the platform will continue to prioritize the removal of child sexual exploitation, and the brands that left in September can return knowing that specific issue will not negatively impact their brand as well as children around the globe.”
The question remains: Which is worse for Twitter advertisers: child sexual exploitation or Elon Musk?
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