In a significant development for the advertising landscape, major companies like Apple, Disney, and Lionsgate have suspended their advertising campaigns on X. This decision is a direct response to the escalating concerns over antisemitic content on the platform. The move signifies a growing unease among advertisers about the content moderation policies under the leadership of X's owner, Elon Musk.
Growing concerns over content
The suspension of advertising by these prominent brands comes in the wake of a controversial endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory by Musk. According to reports from Axios and The New York Times, these companies are taking a stand against the content on the platform. Additionally, Warner Brothers Discovery and Paramount Global have also paused their ads, as reported by Deadline and CNBC, respectively.
IBM leads the charge
IBM was among the first to act, confirming on Thursday that it was halting its advertisements. This decision followed a Media Matters report that revealed IBM's Watson division ads were placed next to pro-Nazi content. The report also highlighted the presence of ads from Apple, Oracle, and other tech companies alongside similar material.
In response, an executive at X told Engadget that the posts identified were no longer generating revenue. X CEO Linda Yaccarino also emphasised the platform's dedication to combating antisemitism and discrimination.
The role of Musk's leadership
The withdrawal of these advertisers marks a significant setback for X's ad business, which was already struggling. Musk's recent tweet, in which he voiced agreement with an account promoting an antisemitic conspiracy theory, seems to have intensified the concerns of advertisers. Axios reported that Apple's decision to “pause” its ads could be attributed to either Musk's tweet, the Media Matters report, or a combination of both.
The broader impact
This is not the first instance of such a boycott. A year ago, civil rights groups called for an advertiser boycott following Musk's takeover of Twitter, pointing to a rise in hate speech and relaxed moderation policies. Though some advertisers returned, the ad business never fully recovered, with Musk acknowledging a steep decline in ad revenue.