Elon Musk said Friday that Twitter has seen a “massive drop in revenue,” as a growing number of advertisers have paused spending on the platform in the wake of its $44 billion acquisition.
And he said in a tweet: “Twitter has seen a massive decrease in revenue, due to the pressure of activist groups on advertisers, although nothing has changed with the modification of content and we have done everything we can to satisfy the activists.” “Too messed up! They are trying to destroy freedom of expression in America.”
The comments come as brands including General Mills and Volkswagen Group have paused advertising on the social network, and civil society organizations have called on Twitter advertisers to halt all spending globally, citing uncertainty about the company’s direction under Musk. .
“We have paused advertising on Twitter,” General Mills spokesman Kelsey Romhilt told CNN in a statement, making it the first company not to compete with Musk’s Tesla to confirm such a move. “As always, we will continue to monitor this new trend and assess our marketing spending,” the spokesperson said.
In a separate statement, the Volkswagen Group, which owns Audi, Porsche and Bentley, confirmed that it had recommended its brands “to temporarily suspend their paid activities on the platform until further notice.”
The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report These moves, Pfizer and Mondalez said, are pausing ads on Twitter. The two companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The two companies have joined forces with General Motors, which previously said it would pause paying for advertising on Twitter while it evaluates the platform’s “new direction.” Toyota, another Tesla competitor, previously told CNN it was “in discussions with key stakeholders and monitoring the situation” on Twitter.
On Friday, organizations including The Anti-Defamation League, Free Press and GLAAD have increased their campaign to lobby for more brands to rethink advertising on Twitter. The groups cited Friday’s mass layoffs of Twitter employees as a key factor in their thinking, citing concerns that Musk’s cuts will render Twitter’s election integrity policies virtually unenforceable, even if they remain technically active.
After months of uncertainty about Musk’s impending acquisition, advertisers are now facing questions about how Musk will change the platform, which also plays in the digital advertising space despite its outsized political influence. Known as an innovative entrepreneur and curious figure, Musk has promised to rethink Twitter’s content-modification policies and roll back a permanent ban on controversial figures, including former President Donald Trump.
This poses a challenge for brands who are sensitive to the types of content their ads display, an issue further complicated by social media. Most marketers are intimidated by the idea of displaying their ads alongside toxic content such as hate speech, pornography, or misinformation.
The ad buying giant Interpublic Group, which works with consumer brands like Unilever and Coca Cola, earlier this week also recommended its customers to pause advertising on the platform.
Musk said he’s not a fan of ads and is currently increasing Twitter’s subscription revenue to increase its bottom line and reduce its reliance on ad sales, which account for 90% of Twitter’s total revenue. But this transformation will not happen overnight, if at all. Musk said he plans to launch an $8 per month subscription plan that will provide users with check markas well as many other franchises, but the plans met with a sharp backlash.
Meanwhile, Musk is working to fend off potential advertiser exodus. Musk’s team spent Monday “meeting with the marketing and advertising community” in New York, according to Jason Calacanis, a member of Musk’s inner circle.
Musk also met earlier this week with a range of leaders from civil society organizations, including the ADL, Free Press and the NAACP, to address concerns about the rise of hate on the platform. Representatives who attended the meeting told CNN they were encouraged by Musk’s willingness to speak and his initial commitments not to change the company’s content policies before midterm, but called on him to take more steps to protect the platform.
Since the meeting with Musk, representatives of some of the same organizations said, the new owner of Twitter showed “irregular” behavior that “betrayed” the commitments he made in particular to the groups.
Shortly before news broke last week that Twitter’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter was completed, Musk wrote an open letter In an effort to reassure advertisers that he does not want the social network to become a “free place for everyone.”
“Basically, Twitter aspires to be the world’s most respected advertising platform that enhances your brand and grows your organization,” he wrote. “Let’s build something extraordinary together.”
– CNN’s Brian Fong, Peter Valdes-Dapina, and John Basantino contributed to this report.
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