By Claire Atkin
Many people spent Labor Day weekend relaxing. Elon Musk spent it spinning antisemitic tropes in his latest effort to disparage any organization trying to make X, formerly Twitter, safer for users and advertisers.
Musk claimed that the Anti-Defamation League is behind Twitter's declining ad sales. But let’s be clear: The only person responsible for Twitter’s decline in ad sales is Musk.
Musk attacking his critics with lawsuits isn’t new. Recently, Twitter filed a lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate for investigating the proliferation of disinformation and harassment on his platform.
The reality is that brands have pulled back advertising from Twitter because they know the platform has become less brand-safe since Musk’s acquisition. Meanwhile, Twitter is using industry certification bodies like TAG in an attempt to bolster its reputation with advertisers. At Check My Ads, we recently filed a formal complaint to the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), calling on them to open an investigation into whether the platform is in breach of its brand safety guidelines.
In March 2023, TAG approved Twitter as “brand safe.” This week, TAG confirmed to Digiday that they have opened an investigation. TAG claims to be a leading global certification program fighting criminal activity and increasing trust in the digital advertising industry. TAG declares their certification program “serves the entire digital advertising supply chain by providing transparency, choice, and control for buyers – enabling them to buy advertising inventory with confidence and creating a brand safety framework for sellers that increases the value of certified sellers' inventory.” Based on this description, they need to clarify why Twitter’s brand safety certification was renewed in March 2023.
Since he took over Twitter, Musk has attacked researchers’ and advocacy groups’ freedom of speech. Twitter fired effectively the whole content moderation team and subcontractors they hired to keep the platform safe. Twitter has firmly cemented itself as the leading platform, moving the quickest towards spurring real-world violence, hate, and harassment.
These are business decisions they’ve made for all advertisers to see. Any posturing by Elon Musk or Linda Yaccarino (Twitter’s new CEO) towards getting advertisers back is disingenuous, considering their business choices over the last 12 months. Musk's legal threats against ADL and CCDH highlight the priorities of those in charge of the platform who would rather silence their critics than clean up toxic content.