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Activists pressure Twitter advertisers

Social media advocates want companies that have pulled their advertising dollars from Twitter to announce it, as pressure mounts on new owner Elon Musk.

November 22, 2022
By Sheila Dang
22 November 2022

A coalition of civil rights activists are urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the social media platform after its owner Elon Musk lifted the ban on tweets by former US president Donald Trump.

Trump’s account, which Twitter had suspended after the US Capitol riot on January 6 2021, citing the risk of further incitement of violence, was reinstated over the weekend. 

Some 90 per cent of Twitter’s revenue comes from selling digital ads.

The groups in the Stop Toxic Twitter coalition complained on Monday that Musk had vowed to advertisers that Twitter would take a considered approach to reinstating banned accounts and convene a new content moderation council. 

No such council has been created as of Monday.

“It was a real breach”, Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, a left-leaning media watchdog that is part of the coalition, said.

He said Musk “was lying from the beginning”.

Twitter, which lost much of its communications team when Musk slashed the staff shortly after taking over, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Earlier this month, Musk complained that pressure from the activists had already caused a “massive drop in revenue”.

Twitter began reinstating banned or suspended accounts late last week including the comedian Kathy Griffin as well as Trump.

The platform also reinstated the personal Twitter account of US House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene on Monday.

Of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers by total spending this year, 51 have paused ads according to private conversations with the coalition, public statements or spending data provided by ad measurement firm Pathmatics, Carusone said.

The coalition is asking brands that have not publicised their Twitter pause to issue public statements and help generate pressure on the other 49 advertisers that have taken no action, he said.

“You need to take a stand and draw the line,” Carusone said. 

“It’s important for big spenders to say they have stopped.”

The coalition will consider naming the companies later this week if they have not issued a public statement about pausing ads, he added.

Musk tweeted on Saturday that Twitter would reinstate the former president’s account after a slim majority voted yes on Musk’s poll about the issue.

The names atop the list of Twitter’s top advertisers have shifted from the week before Musk closed his deal to acquire the company. 

Major brands HBO and Mondelez were Twitter’s top two advertisers in the week before the acquisition, according to data from Pathmatics. 

But between November 10 and 16 – after Musk laid off half of Twitter’s staff – the top two largest advertisers were FinanceBuzz.io, a personal finance website and Trendytowns, an ecommerce site based in Singapore.

Pathmatics data showed that the top 100 advertisers between November 10 to 16 spent an estimated $US23.6 million ($A35.7 million) on Twitter, down from $US24 million ($A36 million) spent between October 16 to 22 before Musk became Twitter’s owner. 

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