X’s CEO tells staff data will show efforts to fight hate, as advertisers flee

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NEW YORK – Social media company X’s chief executive officer Linda Yaccarino told employees that “data will tell the real story” about its efforts to battle antisemitism, according to a note to employees, amid growing outrage over the issue.

X, formerly Twitter, lost several major advertisers including IBM and Comcast, and owner Elon Musk was blasted by the White House after he agreed with a post on the platform on Nov 15.

The post falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people. On Nov 16, media watchdog group Media Matters said it had found that advertisements for major brands had appeared next to posts that touted Nazism.

“While some advertisers may have temporarily paused investments because of a misleading and manipulated article, the data will tell the real story,” Ms Yaccarino said in the Nov 19 note to employees seen by Reuters, adding that X has been clear about its efforts to fight antisemitism and discrimination.

Six major brands that said they have or have been reported to have paused ads – Apple, IBM, Sony, Disney, Comcast and Paramount – collectively represented 7 per cent of X’s US ad revenue so far this year, according to data from market intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

X did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Sensor Tower’s data.

Over the weekend of Nov 18-19, Musk posted on X that his company would file a “thermonuclear” lawsuit against Media Matters for what he said was a “fraudulent attack” on the platform. An X representative confirmed that the company would sue the non-profit organisation.

In a response on Nov 20, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone, said: “Far from the free speech advocate he claims to be, Musk is a bully who threatens meritless lawsuits in an attempt to silence reporting that he even confirmed is accurate. Musk admitted the ads at issue ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified.”

The controversy comes amid a surge in anti-semitism in many countries, including the United States, since the Oct 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel and the subsequent bombardment and invasion of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military.

After buying Twitter in October 2022 for US$44 billion (S$58.8 billion), Musk laid off thousands of employees, including many who worked to moderate content on the platform. REUTERS

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