Hate speech is driving advertisers away from Twitter

The mouse that roared?

Hate speech is driving advertisers away from Twitter

According to The New York Times, Twitter’s ad sales in the United Sales have plunged 59% in the past year.

And the internal forecasts, the newspaper reports, say that ad sales will continue to decline.

What’s the problem? Well, the rise of hate speech, porn, and misinformation that appears to have surged since Elon Musk’s chaotic reign at the company began.

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And it’s not easy to convince advertisers that Twitter is a safe place to spend your advertising dollars when Twitter itself is making decisions that damage the advertiser’s brand.

For instance, in April Twitter granted an account that was being followed by a mere 1000-or-so people its special “gold checkmark” – which is supposed to be reserved for official and verified businesses who stump up $1000 per month.

Twitter thought @DisneyJuniorUK belonged to Disney. But it didn’t, and Disney was not happy.

As the NYT reported:

Twitter has also run into public relations snafus with big advertisers like Disney. In April, Twitter mistakenly gave a gold check mark — a badge meant to signify a paying advertiser — to the @DisneyJuniorUK account, which Disney doesn’t own. The account posted racial slurs, leading Disney officials to demand from Twitter an explanation and assurances that it wouldn’t happen again, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

Prior to being suspended, the @DisneyJuniorUK account itself couldn’t quite believe that it had been given a gold checkmark.

Tweet by unofficial Disney Junior account

This is just one isolated example of the kind of failures that are happening at Twitter all the time since Elon Musk bought the company and initiated a series of massive and chaotic layoffs.

Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, resigned at the end of last week.

Twitter’s previous head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, stepped down in November 2022, and was subsequently forced to leave home due to online threats.

And in December Twitter shut down its Trust and Safety Council that tackled harrassment and child exploitation.

If I had an advertising budget, I wouldn’t be spending it on Twitter either.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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