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Social media giant X faces ad exodus by major brands amidst rise in hate speech

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Social media platform X is grappling with a mass exodus of advertisers as concerns rise over their ads appearing alongside pro-Nazi content and hate speech. IBM, Apple, Oracle, NBCUniversal’s Bravo network, Comcast, and the European Union have all halted advertising on X due to these alarming issues.

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on October 10, 2023, shows (L) SpaceX, Twitter and electric car maker Tesla CEO Elon Musk during his visit at the Vivatech technology startups and innovation fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, on June 16, 2023 and (R) the new Twitter logo rebranded as X, pictured on a screen in Paris on July 24, 2023.. The EU's digital chief Thierry Breton warned Elon Musk on October 10, 2023, that his platform X, formerly Twitter, is spreading "illegal content and disinformation", in a letter seen by AFP.(AFP)
(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on October 10, 2023, shows (L) SpaceX, Twitter and electric car maker Tesla CEO Elon Musk during his visit at the Vivatech technology startups and innovation fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, on June 16, 2023 and (R) the new Twitter logo rebranded as X, pictured on a screen in Paris on July 24, 2023.. The EU’s digital chief Thierry Breton warned Elon Musk on October 10, 2023, that his platform X, formerly Twitter, is spreading “illegal content and disinformation”, in a letter seen by AFP.(AFP)

IBM, expressing zero tolerance for hate speech, stated, “We have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation.” Other major brands like Apple, Oracle, NBCUniversal, and Comcast have not yet commented on their next steps.

Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of X, further exacerbated the situation with his tweets endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory. Musk’s comments sparked outrage, and the White House condemned the promotion of antisemitic and racist hate on the platform.

X CEO Linda Yaccarino, hired by Musk to rebuild ties with advertisers, emphasized the platform’s commitment to combating antisemitism and discrimination. However, Media Matters found antisemitic material posted on X, leading to the removal of monetization for those accounts and the labelling of specific posts as “sensitive media.”

Despite these actions, Musk criticized Media Matters as “an evil organization,” triggering a clash with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt warned against validating and promoting antisemitic theories.

The European Commission announced a pause in its advertising on X and other social media platforms, citing a surge in hate speech. The EU has been actively addressing these issues, recently requesting information from X about its handling of hate speech related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

X isn’t the only platform facing content challenges. TikTok removed the hashtag #lettertoamerica after users shared videos sympathizing with Osama bin Laden’s 2002 letter justifying terrorist attacks. TikTok defended its actions, denying manipulation of its algorithm and emphasizing its efforts to combat antisemitic content.

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