X Corp. CEO Linda Yaccarino has been busy reassuring major brands that X/Twitter is a "healthier and safer platform than it was a year ago." In a CNBC interview last week, she said advertisers are "protected from the risk of being next to" toxic content and "by all objective metrics, X is a much healthier and safer platform than it was a year ago."
However, Yaccarino's assurances seem overstated. Media Matters reports that under Yaccarino's watchful eye, ads from major global brands have appeared next to a pro-Hitler account's posts:
Media Matters and other observers have documented how X has remained a dangerous cesspool of content, especially for advertisers. Since Elon Musk took over the company, X has placed ads for numerous brands directly on Holocaust denial, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi accounts. Ads have also appeared next to content from the accounts of extremists that have been restored under Musk.
New American Union is a pro-fascist account that celebrates Hitler and his National Socialist Party (aka the Nazi Party). It's been "verified since April 2023" and has thousands of followers, meaning that the account meets at least two of the criteria for X's revenue sharing program — and that money from X's advertisers could eventually end up in the account's pockets.
After Media Matters published the piece, X finally suspended the account.
From Media Matters:
Update 2 (8/16/23, 8:15 p.m.): CNN's Clare Duffy and Brian Fung followed up on Media Matters' reporting and found ads for other brands on the pro-Hitler account prior to its suspension. They reported that "spokespeople for NCTA and pharmaceutical company Gilead said that they immediately paused their ad spending on X after CNN flagged their ads on the pro-Nazi account." They added: "Wednesday's report suggests that the company still has work to do if it wants to avoid monetizing, and placing ads alongside, objectionable content."
Update (8/16/23, 1:45 p.m.): Following the publication of this article, X suspended the openly pro-Hitler account. The suspension came only after the company verified the account; allowed it to repeatedly post antisemitic content; and monetized it by placing advertisements for major brands on the account. X's monetization of the account also happened even though the company had reportedly acknowledged that the antisemitic account engaged in "violent speech."
CNN further reported that at least two brands have stopped advertising on X after learning their advertising was supporting the dissemination of pro-Nazi content:
Spokespeople for NCTA and pharmaceutical company Gilead said that they immediately paused their ad spending on X after CNN flagged their ads on the pro-Nazi account.
"We take the responsible placement of NCTA ads very seriously and are concerned that our post about the future of broadband technology appeared next to this highly disturbing content," NCTA spokesperson Brian Dietz said in a statement, adding that the organization had opted into X's brand safety measures including keyword restrictions and limiting its ad placement to the "home feed of target audiences."
"Brand safety will remain an utmost priority for NCTA, which means suspending advertising on Twitter/X for the foreseeable future and heavily limiting NCTA's organic presence on the platform," Dietz said.
A spokesperson for Gilead said the company will pause its ad spending while X investigates the issue.