A group of more than 40 civil society organizations on Tuesday sent a letter urging the top 20 Twitter advertisers to threaten to suspend their ads globally if the platform’s new owner Elon Musk won’t commit to enforcing safety standards and community guidelines.
“We, the undersigned organizations, call on you to notify Musk and publicly commit that you will cease all advertising on Twitter globally if he follows through on his plans to undermine brand safety and community standards, including gutting content moderation. This means that Musk must not roll back the basic moderation practices Twitter already has on the books now and must commit to actually enforcing those rules,” the civil society groups wrote in their open letter to the advertising CEOs.
Amazon, Apple, Meta Platforms, Google and Disney were among the 20 advertisers to receive the open letter, signed by groups including the NAACP, the Center for American Progress, GLAAD, the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, and #Voteprochoice. The effort was organized by Free Press, Media Matters and Accountable Tech.
“If Elon Musk follows through with just a fraction of what he has already committed to doing, then Twitter will not and can not be a safe platform for brands. Urgent action is needed by advertisers,” the letter continued.
After Musk closed his drawn-out deal to acquire the social media platform last week, he quickly moved to implement changes throughout the site, making cuts to staff and pushing plans to lift lifelong bans for users such as former President Trump. He’s also aiming to charge a $20 monthly fee for verified accounts, a move that prompted much pushback from users.
He has sought to assure advertisers that although he would promote free speech on the platform, Twitter would not become a “free-for-all” — but reports showed that racist and antisemitic Tweets spread rapidly on the platform after his acquisition.
The Tesla CEO himself tweeted a link to an article sharing a right-wing conspiracy theory about the recent violent assault of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband Paul Pelosi.
“Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter came with his promise to advertisers like you that the social network would not transform into a ‘free-for-all hellscape’ and would remain ‘warm and welcoming to all.’ But beware: Musk’s promises in no way accurately portray his plans for Twitter, nor are they a reflection of the evolving reality of the platform as it transforms by the minute under Musk,” the civil society groups argued.
The letter tells advertisers they have “a moral and civic obligation to take a stand against the degradation of one of the world’s most influential communications platforms” and to hold Musk accountable as he assumes leadership.