‘Toxic Twitter’ activists ramp up pressure on brands after Trump account reinstated

Nov 21 (Reuters) – A coalition of civil rights activists on Monday called on Twitter advertisers to issue statements about removing their ads from the social media platform after its owner Elon Musk lifted a ban on former U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets.

Trump’s account, which Twitter suspended after the US Capitol riots on January 6, 2021 due to the risk of further inciting violence, was reinstated over the weekend. About 90% of Twitter’s revenue comes from digital advertising sales.

Groups in the Stop Toxic Twitter coalition alleged that Musk promised advertisers that Twitter would take a considered approach to reinstate banned accounts and convene a new content moderation council. No such council was formed till Monday.

“It was a real violation,” Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, a left-leaning media watchdog that is part of the coalition, said Monday. He said Kasturi was “lying from the beginning.”

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“In less than three weeks Musk has gone back on every promise he made to civil-rights leaders and advertisers,” said Jessica Gonzalez, co-chief executive of the media and democracy group Free Press, which is also part of the Twitter alliance. A press release.

Twitter, which lost its communications team when Musk cut staff shortly after taking over, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This month, Musk complained that employee pressures had already caused a “massive drop in revenue.”

Twitter began reinstating banned or suspended accounts late last week, including those of comedian Kathy Griffin and Trump.

The platform also reinstated US House Representative Marjorie Taylor Green’s personal Twitter account on Monday.

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Of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers by total spend this year, 51 have broken down ads according to private conversations with alliances, public statements or spending data provided by ad measurement firm Pathometrics, Carusone said.

The alliance is asking brands that didn’t publicize their Twitter hiatus to issue public statements and help put pressure on the other 49 advertisers who didn’t take action, he said.

“You have to take a position and draw the line,” Carusone said. “It’s important for big spenders to say they’re off.”

The coalition will consider naming the companies later this week if they do not issue a public statement about the advertising pause, he added.

Musk tweeted Saturday that Twitter would reinstate the former president’s account after a slim majority voted yes in Musk’s poll on the matter.

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The names at the top of Twitter’s list of top advertisers moved a week before Musk closed his deal to acquire the company. Major brands HBO and Mondelez were Twitter’s top two advertisers in the week before the acquisition, according to Pathometrics data. But between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, after Musk laid off half of Twitter’s staff, the top two biggest advertisers were FinanceBuzz.io, a personal finance website, and Trendytowns, an ecommerce site based in Singapore.

Pathmatics data showed that the top 100 advertisers spent an estimated $23.6 million on Twitter between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, down from $24. Musk spent 2 million between October 16 and October 22 before owning Twitter.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; Edited by Kenneth Lee and David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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