Elon Musk is meeting with some of Twitter’s largest advertisers and marketing partners on Wednesday in an attempt to reassure executives following raucous developments at the microblogging site.
The move comes days after Musk – who acquired the company in a $44 billion deal last month – threatened a “thermonuclear name & shame” campaign against advertisers that jilt his platform.
Musk will speak to a vetted group of advertisers on “Twitter Spaces,” a live audio conversation feature on the platform.
The topics for the discussion are unclear, but Musk last week said Twitter was facing a “massive drop in revenue” as advertisers paused campaigns on the platform. Since Musk completed his acquisition, reports of hate speech and abuse on Twitter have swelled.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson called on businesses to drop their advertisements on Twitter “until actions are taken to make Twitter a safe space.” Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” accused businesses that participate in the boycott of “trying to destroy free speech in America.”
Automakers Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen have all pulled their Twitter ads, along with cereal and snack companies General Mills and Mondelez, the corporation behind Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Sour Patch Kids candy. International ad and consulting firm Interpublic, which represents American Express, Coca-Cola, Fitbit, Spotify and dozens of other major corporations, has also suspended its Twitter ad buys.
“A thermonuclear name & shame is exactly what will happen if this continues,” Musk tweeted Friday as more companies began their advertising exits, threatening to unleash his rowdy online fans on business and executives that desert the platform.
In his brief tenure, Musk has laid off roughly half of Twitter’s workforce, decimating content moderation and engineering teams days before Tuesday’s midterm elections. As the company’s remaining staff struggled to keep up with complex infrastructure challenges, the company moved to hire back some of those displaced employees.
Musk has plans to sell Twitter’s blue verification badge for $8 per month, he said, but without actually verifying users’ identities, a prospect that may actually cost the company more money than it brings in. It also threatens to create havoc on a platform that already struggles with the proliferation of disinformation, bots and scammers.
Since taking over, Musk has taunted politicians – including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., – on the platform, shared a meme featuring a Nazi soldier, propagated misinformation about the attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and imposed draconian restrictions on parody accounts.
Those and other of Musk’s moves have spooked advertisers.
“Advertisers are not being manipulated by activist groups, they are being compelled by established principles around the types of companies they can do business with. These principles include an assessment of the platforms commitment to brand safety and suitability,” Lou Paskalis, the president of a major marketing firm, MMA Global, tweeted at Musk.
Musk blocked Paskalis – then unblocked him – after the exchange.
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