Companies are leaving social media platform X due to worries about their advertisements appearing alongside pro-Nazi material and hateful speech in general. The platform’s billionaire owner, Elon Musk, has also sparked controversy with his tweets promoting an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
This week, IBM announced that it has ceased advertising on X following a report that its advertisements were being displayed alongside content that glorifies Nazis. This is another obstacle for the platform, previously known as Twitter, as it attempts to regain the trust of major companies and their advertising budgets, which make up the majority of X’s income.
Media Matters, a liberal advocacy organization, reported on Thursday that advertisements from Apple, Oracle, NBCUniversal’s Bravo network, and Comcast were found to be placed next to content promoting antisemitism on X.
“IBM has a strict policy against hate speech and discrimination. As we look into this completely unacceptable situation, we have suspended all advertising on X,” the company stated.
Requests for comment on their next moves were not immediately answered by Apple, Oracle, NBCUniversal, and Comcast.
On Friday, the executive branch of the European Union announced that it will temporarily halt advertising on X and other social media platforms due to a rise in hateful language. A representative from Lionsgate has also stated that the entertainment company has paused their advertising on X.
Musk sparked outcry this week with his own tweets responding to a user who accused Jews of hating white people and professing indifference to antisemitism. “You have said the actual truth,” Musk tweeted in a reply Wednesday.
Musk has been accused of allowing anti-Semitic messages on the platform after acquiring it in the previous year. The content on X has received more attention since the conflict between Israel and Hamas started.
The White House spokesperson, Andrew Bates, expressed strong disapproval on Friday towards Musk’s tweet promoting Antisemitic and racist hate. This goes against our fundamental American values.
Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, stated that the company’s stance is firmly against all forms of discrimination and should be stopped universally.
“I believe that is a point of consensus that we can all reach and should support,” she posted on Twitter on Thursday.
Musk brought on Yaccarino, a past executive at NBCUniversal, to repair relationships with advertisers who had left due to concerns about his relaxed content guidelines leading to the spread of harmful and hateful language, potentially damaging their brands.
Yaccarino stated that on this platform, it is abundantly clear that we are actively working to fight against antisemitism and discrimination. These harmful actions have no place in our society and are unacceptable. We will not tolerate them.
The accounts that Media Matters found posting antisemitic material will no longer be monetizable and the specific posts will be labeled “sensitive media,” according to a statement from X. Still, Musk decried Media Matters as “an evil organization.”
The leader of the Anti-Defamation League responded to Musk’s tweets this week, marking yet another conflict between the well-known Jewish civil rights group and the wealthy entrepreneur.
On X, CEO of ADL Jonathan Greenblatt stated that it is extremely hazardous to endorse and spread antisemitic beliefs, especially during a period when these beliefs are on the rise in America and globally.
Musk also tweeted this week that he was “deeply offended by ADL’s messaging and any other groups who push de facto anti-white racism or anti-Asian racism or racism of any kind.”
In the past, the group has accused Musk of enabling the spread of anti-Semitic and hateful language on the platform, as well as boosting the voices of neo-Nazis and white supremacists who advocate for the ADL’s ban.
The European Commission has announced that it is pausing all social media advertising due to a concerning rise in disinformation and hate speech on various platforms in recent weeks.
The European Union’s executive branch, known as the commission, has recommended that its departments avoid promoting on social media platforms where inappropriate content may be found. This recommendation does not apply to the commission’s verified accounts on X.
The European Union has implemented strict measures to regulate social media platforms. Recently, they officially asked X for details on how they manage hate speech, false information, and violent terrorist content during the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Since the conflict, X has not been the only one dealing with problematic content.
TikTok recently took down the hashtag #lettertoamerica on Thursday due to sympathetic videos regarding Osama bin Laden’s 2002 letter justifying the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Americans and condemning U.S. support for Israel. The Guardian, who initially published the letter’s transcript, also removed it and replaced it with a statement directing readers to a 2002 news article for further context.
The TikTok videos became popular among X users who are skeptical of the app’s ownership by Beijing-based company ByteDance. TikTok stated that the hashtag was not a trend on their platform and pointed to a post by journalist Yashar Ali and media coverage as the reason for the increased attention.
The video app has received backlash from Republicans and others for its failure to protect Jewish users from harassment and for promoting pro-Palestinian content to its audience.
TikTok has strongly refuted these claims, stating that it actively removes content promoting antisemitism and does not manipulate its algorithm in favor of any particular side.
Matt O’Brien and Haleluya Hadero, technology writers from Providence, Rhode Island and New York respectively, both contributed to this piece.