Elon Musk’s ‘Racist Rhetoric’ Weighed by Advertisers Before Meeting Twitter CEO
Since Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, advertisers have grappled with his ownership of the social media company. Within months of his acquisition of Twitter, researchers found that slurs against Black Americans and other minority groups increased on the platform. The billionaire’s own comments on race and reinstatement of extremist figures have spooked top advertisers and caused many to abandon Twitter.
The billionaire plans to lure advertisers back during a speaking engagement at MMA Global’s Possible marketing conference in Miami on April 18. However, a private email thread, obtained by Semafor, reveals that many major advertisers remain skeptical of the Chief Twit.
“For many communities, his willingness to leverage success and personal financial resources to further an agenda under the guise of freedom of speech is perpetuating racism resulting [in] direct threats to their communities and a potential for brand safety compromise we should all be concerned about,” wrote Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s chief marketing and customer experience officer.
Colgate-Palmolive’s vice president and general manager of consumer experience and growth, Diana Haussling, wrote, “While I am a huge supporter of free speech and enterprise we can not ignore the impact of such hate speech. I especially can’t ignore it as a black woman.”
Kristi Argyilan, the senior vice president of retail media at the grocery giant Albertsons, pointed out the risks and responsibility of “giving Elon Musk a stage,” adding, “we have signed up to broker an important discussion that must be managed with the utmost of care and respect for those most harmed by his actions and inactions.”
Although it wasn’t clear what incidents the executives were referring to, in February, the Twitter CEO defended the cartoonist behind the syndicated comic Dilbert following racist remarks made by the strip’s cartoonist Scott Adams.
In response to the thread, Twitter’s VP of global sales and marketing Chris Riedy offered to set up private meetings with Musk and the executives after his interview with Yaccarino “in an effort to foster the most healthy conversation possible and to give each of you the opportunity to address him directly.”
Since taking control of the platform in October, Musk has also welcomed back several previously banned bigots including neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (who was suspended last year for repeatedly violating the site’s Covid-19 misinformation policy at the time), and white supremacist Nick Fuentes.
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