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

Nov 21 (Reuters) – A coalition of civil rights activists on Monday urged Twitter’s advertisers to issue a statement removing them after its owner Elon Musk lifted a ban on former U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets. Ads were pulled from social media platforms.

Trump’s account, suspended over the weekend following the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol, citing the risk of further incitement to violence, was restored. About 90% of Twitter’s revenue comes from selling digital ads.

Groups in the Stop Toxic Twitter coalition complained that Musk had vowed to advertisers that Twitter would take a thoughtful approach to reinstate banned accounts and convene a new content moderation board. As of Monday, no such committee had been formed.

“This is a real breach,” Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, the league’s left-leaning media watchdog, said Monday. He said Musk “has been lying from the beginning.”

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“In less than three weeks, Musk has reneged on every promise he’s made to civil rights leaders and advertisers,” said Jessica Gonzalez, co-chief executive of the media and democracy group Free Press, which The organization is also part of the Twitter Alliance, a press release.

Twitter, which laid off staff shortly after Musk took the job and lost most of its communications team, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This month, Musk complained that pressure from activists had resulted in a “significant drop in revenue.”

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

The platform also reinstated the personal Twitter account of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Monday.

Of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers in total spending this year, 51 have paused their ads, Carusone said, based on private conversations with the league, public statements or spending data provided by ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

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The coalition is asking brands that haven’t announced their Twitter suspensions to make public statements and helping to put pressure on the other 49 advertisers who haven’t taken action, he said.

“You need to take a stand and draw a line,” Carusone said. “It’s important for big spenders to say they’ve stopped.”

He added that the league would consider naming the companies later this week if they did not make a public statement about the ad suspension.

Musk said on Twitter on Saturday that Twitter would reinstate the former president’s account after he narrowly voted yes in a poll conducted by Musk on the issue.

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The name change on Twitter’s list of top advertisers came a week before Musk finalized 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 Pathmatics. But between Nov. 10 and 16, after Musk fired half of Twitter’s staff, the two biggest advertisers were personal finance site FinanceBuzz.io and Singapore-based e-commerce site Trendytowns.

Between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, the top 100 advertisers spent an estimated $23.6 million on Twitter, down from $24, according to Pathmatics data. After spending $2 million between Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, Musk became the owner of Twitter.

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; Editing by Kenneth Li and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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