Will Musk’s Takeover Rescue or Wreck Twitter?

Although Elon Musk has tweeted that “Twitter’s commitment to brand safety is unchanged,” the business world remains unconvinced.

With Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter in late October, marketers and advertisers are cautious and may be left wondering about the impact it will have. Already, one of the largest advertising companies, IPG’s Mediabrands, has suggested that its clients, (which include American Express, Coca-Cola Co., Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss & Co., Spotify and more) suspend their ads on Twitter for a week due to trust and safety concerns because of the takeover. 

Although Musk has tweeted that “Twitter’s commitment to brand safety is unchanged,” the business world remains unconvinced, especially after the recent tweet in which Musk reiterated (and then deleted) the conspiratorial story about Paul Pelosi’s attacker.  

Musk’s Commitment to Free Speech Has a Dark Side

The right to free speech is a core value in the United States, and people have fought diligently to maintain this right. Freedom of speech does not apply to private businesses; however, Musk has vehemently said that Twitter will remain a bastion of free speech, a “common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.” That said, since the takeover, some bad actors have already been posting racist comments on the service. Over a 12-hour period on October 28th, the use of racist words had increased by 500% from the previous average. According to Twitter’s head of trust and safety, this resulted in the removal of at least 1,500 accounts that spread hateful content in the following three days.

Musk has also alluded that he will be allowing former President Trump to use his Twitter account again, which could draw many of the extremist groups that support him back to Twitter along with him. 

Related Article: The Impact of the Musk Twitter Deal on Social Media Strategies

It’s Not Just Marketers Concerned About Musk’s Twitter Takeover

In May of this year, Search Engine Land published the results of a poll which indicated that 58% of marketers said they were not concerned about the Musk takeover of Twitter. Among the positive reasons cited by marketers are the verification of accounts, the removal of bots, and free speech, which conversely, the other 42% of those polled are concerned is a code word for “hate speech.” 

The Global Alliance for Responsible Media — a cross-industry initiative formed by the World Federation of Advertisers to address harmful content on digital media platforms — posted an open letter to Twitter on Oct. 31 that called for improving safety on the platform for advertisers. 

The next day, 40 civil society groups wrote an open letter to the CEOs of Twitter’s top 20 advertisers (which includes Amazon, Apple, The Walt Disney Co., Google and Meta) requesting that they stop advertising on Twitter globally if Musk continues to do things that “undermine brand safety and community standards by gutting content moderation.”

Related Article: Evaluating Elon Musk’s Plan to Fix Twitter 

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