Brands suspend advertising on X after ads appear alongside Nazi content

Less than a week after X CEO Linda Yaccarino claimed the platform formerly known as Twitter was safe for brands, at least two companies are suspending ad campaigns on the social media website.

Why? Because the brands’ ads appeared alongside neo-Nazi content.

Pharmaceutical giant Gilead and the NCTA – The Internet and Television Association have both informed CNN that its company was no longer advertising on X following a new report that found major brands ads being shown on content promoting nazi ideology. 

The NCTA said in a statement to CNN that it was using X’s brand safety tools, ones in which X CEO Yaccarino recently promoted as one of the reasons the platform was now safe for advertisers. X has struggled to woo brands back to the platform following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company in October. Approximately half of the company’s biggest advertisers stopped running ads on the platform following content moderation changes implemented by Musk.

Furthermore, one organization that had ads placed on this content claimed that it wasn’t an X advertiser at all. In a statement provided to CNN, University of Maryland’s associate athletic director told the outlet that Maryland Football hasn’t run a paid ad campaign on X since 2021.

Right-wing media watchdog Media Matters for America released a report detailing how X was serving ads to users on far right wing, openly fascist content. The report focuses on one specific account, “New American Union,” which has since been suspended from X. The account tweeted out white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and pro-Hitler content.

The report found that ads from brands like Amazon, FIFA, Samsung, MLB, Sports Illustrated, and Adobe were being served on content posted by this account.

The organization released the report shortly after Yaccarino gave a rare video interview to CNBC where she reiterated that the platform was focusing on brand safety with the release of new “sensitivity” tools and ostensibly incidents like the ones detailed in Media Matters’ report wouldn’t happen. X owner Elon Musk brought Yaccarino onboard earlier this year specifically to help bring advertisers back to the platform after Musk’s subscription-based revenue plans floundered.

As X continues to struggle with its paid subscription model, advertisers are going to be central to the platform’s future. Historically, in the years before Musk, ads made up more than 90 percent of the company’s revenue. However, Musk has continued to place his personal proclivity for right-wing content and influencers over brand – and really overall user – safety. For example, last month, Musk personally intervened to restore a right-wing influencer’s account after they were suspended for posting photos of child exploitation. 

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