TBillionaire Elon Musk has threatened to publicly slam advertisers who stop showing ads on Twitter. With his tweet on Saturday night, the new Twitter owner responded to a right-wing lobbyist’s suggestion that he should name the advertisers “so that we can subject them to a counter-boycott”. Musk wrote in his reply: “Thank you. A thermonuclear naming and shaming is exactly what will happen if this doesn’t stop.”
In the past few days, the Volkswagen Group, the carmaker GM, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, the airline United Airline and the food giant Mondelez, among others, have announced that they want to suspend advertising on Twitter. Companies worrying about their ads appearing alongside negative content isn’t a new phenomenon. Google’s video subsidiary YouTube has also struggled with this.
Musk had fueled such concerns by repeatedly emphasizing that he wanted to lift alleged restrictions on free speech on Twitter. Last week he then tried to reassure advertisers with an open letter: Twitter will not be a place where you can do anything without consequences. Even now he emphasizes that nothing has changed in the content rules of the platform. Nevertheless, some advertisers have already withdrawn.
Four million dollars lost a day
Musk complained on Friday about a “massive drop in sales” and blamed it on “activist groups” who put pressure on the companies. These unspecified activists sought to “destroy free speech in America.” The right-wing Internet lobbyist Mike Davis then proposed on Twitter a counter-boycott of advertisers who bowed to such pressure. Davis railed against the “cancel culture” in several organizations, among other things, and wants to hold Internet companies responsible for the alleged suppression of conservative views.
Musk completed the purchase of Twitter for around $44 billion last week and, among other things, took on debt that has to be serviced. Ad revenue accounts for nearly all of Twitter’s revenue, making its decline particularly painful. Twitter is currently losing more than four million dollars a day, Musk wrote in another tweet.
Three months’ salary severance pay
On Friday, Twitter began laying off more than half of its employees en masse. A tweet from the company’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, served as Twitter’s first confirmation of the scope of the layoffs. Roth said 15 percent of his team, which is responsible for preventing the spread of misinformation and harmful content, has been affected by the takedown. “Everyone who was fired was offered a three-month severance package,” Musk tweeted. Around 3,700 employees across the company are affected.
Workers in the US filed a class action lawsuit against Twitter on Thursday. They accuse the company of failing to comply with the 60-day period required for mass redundancies. It violates California and federal law.
Yoel Roth assured that the content of the tweets would be further monitored. The notice is intended to reassure users and advertisers after the company was taken over by billionaire Elon Musk. Musk also tweeted shortly after Roth: “To put it bluntly again, Twitter’s strong commitment to content control remains absolutely unchanged.”