Free Press, Others, Turn Up Heat on Twitter’s Top Advertisers

Twitter HQ in San Francisco
Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. (Image credit: Constanza Hevia/AFP via Getty Image)

Concerned civil-society groups including Free Press and Media Matters are ramping up their campaign against the Elon Musk-led Twitter.

They have already called on Twitter's top advertisers to threaten to pull their ads if Musk “undermines” the social-media platform’s community standards or content moderation. Those advertisers include CBS, Comcast, The Walt Disney Co., HBO, CenturyLink and Verizon Communications. 

“Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter came with his promise to advertisers like you that the social network would not transform into a ‘free-for-all hellscape’ and would remain ‘warm and welcoming to all,’ ” they wrote the advertiser CEOs earlier this week. “But beware: Musk’s promises in no way accurately portray his plans for Twitter, nor are they a reflection of the evolving reality of the platform as it transforms by the minute under Musk. If Elon Musk follows through with just a fraction of what he has already committed to doing, then Twitter will not and can not be a safe platform for brands. Urgent action is needed by advertisers.” 

Now, the #StopToxicTwitter coalition is holding what it bills as an “emergency press conference” Friday (November 4) to put an exclamation point on its call for a temporary advertiser boycott of the platform. 

In addition to concerns about the direction Musk will be taking the social media giant, the groups are pointing to recent and expected layoffs, which could constitute half of Twitter’s workforce, according to some reports (opens in new tab)

They also say they plan to hold Musk to pledges he made earlier this week to representatives from Free Press and others in the coalition to “retain and enforce the election — integrity measures that were on Twitter's books before his takeover.” CNN was reporting (opens in new tab) Friday that a class action lawsuit has been filed by some Twitter employees even as more layoffs are set to be announced Friday. The suit alleges the layoffs came without the requisite notice.

It looked Friday like the boycott was having some impact.

"Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists," he tweeted. "Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America." ▪️

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.