Elon Musk continues to face heat around an uncertain advertising climate for Twitter after the new CEO blocked a top marketer who questioned the platform’s retreat from content moderation and the NAACP’s president and CEO called for a full-on advertising boycott.
“Elon, Great chat yesterday,” MMA Global president Lou Paskalis tweeted Friday before the new Twitter boss blocked his account. “As you heard overwhelmingly from senior advertisers on the call, the issue concerning us all is content moderation and its impact on BRAND SAFETY/SUITABILITY. You say you’re committed to moderation, but you just laid off 75% of the moderation team!”
The NAACP’s Derrick Johnson put it in starker terms.
It is immoral, dangerous, and highly destructive to our democracy for any advertiser to fund a platform that fuels hate speech, election denialism and conspiracy theories. Until actions are taken to make this a safe space, we call on companies to pause all advertising on Twitter.
— Derrick Johnson (@DerrickNAACP) November 4, 2022
Bloomberg reported Monday that approximately 15 Twitter employees have access to content moderation tools, though the exact number of team members and those with access to the tools following the layoffs is unknown.
Though some critiqued Paskalis for his tweet, Musk took a different approach by blocking him on the app.
“So for all the replies I received that content moderation = denial of freedom of speech (it doesn’t),what do you say about the fact that the “chief twit” just blocked me for exercising mine?” Paskalis tweeted Friday. “Yesterday, @elonmusk solicited ?s from marketers, today he’s blocking those who ask them.”
Just after the interaction with Paskalis, Musk scrambled to reassure advertisers that content moderation remained a top priority for the company — despite blocking a top advertiser earlier in the day.
“Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged,” the Tesla CEO tweeted Friday. “In fact, we have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline *below* our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press.”
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of Safety & Integrity, also chimed in to assure users the company’s “core moderation capabilities remain in place” despite the layoffs, which he says impacted 15% of the Trust and Safety team.
He also gave an explanation for Bloomberg’s report that only 15 staffers had access to content moderation tools, citing security reasons, and claimed “more than 80% of our incoming content moderation volume was completely unaffected by this access change.”
“Last week, for security reasons, we restricted access to our internal tools for some users, including some members of my team,” Roth tweeted. “Most of the 2,000+ content moderators working on front-line review were not impacted, and access will be fully restored in the coming days.”
Veteran journalist Kara Swisher also gave colorful insight to the recent call with Twitter’s CRO Sarah Personette where she says Musk faltered when describing a clear-cut plan to advertisers.
From ad tweep who knows: The drop off is mostly self inflicted. First: The CRO [@SEP] walked out Friday. She's trusted by the marketing community. So, Elon goes to meet agency heads in NY. The Twitter exec who runs the US walked him in and is a trusted partner at these agencies. pic.twitter.com/GBAaQQiYKG
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) November 4, 2022