On Friday, Billionaire Elon Musk threatened to publicly humiliate sponsors and advertisers who are pulling out of Twitter after the social networking site announced major layoffs. Twitter laid off approximately half of its 7,500-person workforce only days before the United States midterm elections, which are likely to see an increase in fake propaganda on social media.
The statement was made on Friday morning when Musk tweeted that the advertisers were fleeing because of activist groups that were ‘extremely messed up’. “They’re trying to destroy free speech in America”, he added in the tweet. Among those who responded to this tweet was Federalist Society fellow Mike Davis, widely known for his role in the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
You have nearly 114,000,000 Twitter followers.
Name and shame the advertisers who are succumbing to the advertiser boycotts.
So we can counter-boycott them.
And get your $8 monthly subscription going asap.
So we can start to makeup for lost revenue now. https://t.co/0IAKTnXTes
— 🇺🇸 Mike Davis 🇺🇸 (@mrddmia) November 4, 2022
Davis gave Musk some legal advice saying, “You have nearly 114,000,000 Twitter followers. Name and shame the advertisers who are succumbing to the advertiser boycotts. So we can counter-boycott them. And get your $ 8 monthly subscription going asap. So we can start to make up for lost revenue now”. To this Musk replied, “Thank you. A thermonuclear name & shame is exactly what will happen if this continues”.
A thermonuclear name & shame is exactly what will happen if this continues.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
Musk said that the activist group was pressuring the advertisers leading to a massive drop in revenue. “Twitter 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 said.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk meanwhile defended his decision to lay off Twitter staff, claiming that the micro-blogging service was losing more than USD 4 million per day. “Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately, there is no choice when the company is losing over USD 4M/day. Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required”, he had tweeted.
Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.
Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
Reportedly, Twitter workers were also informed in an email that layoffs would begin on Friday. Elon Musk is likely to lay off around half of Twitter’s 7,500-person workforce. The entrepreneur paid USD 44 billion for Twitter last week, and on the same day, he sacked some of the company’s senior executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal. Musk has previously indicated that job layoffs will be made at Twitter, telling staff at a town hall gathering last summer that the social network needed “a rationalisation of headcount.”
He also commented about the new changes in the micro-blogging site and tweeted, “Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged. We have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline below our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press”.
Earlier, Tiffany Hsu, a tech writer covering misinformation and deception, said in The New York Times that advertisers are pulling back due to the company’s massive layoffs and that the advertisers were concerned that misinformation and hate speech would flourish on the site under Elon Musk’s management.
According to reports, civil rights organizations such as GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League convened a conference call on Friday asking other firms to avoid Twitter owing to enormous layoffs that have reduced an already depleted content moderation workforce.
Also, the Volkswagen Group, along with various other corporations, has recommended that its car brands, including Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, and Porsche, stop their expenditure on Twitter due to fears that their advertising may appear alongside objectionable content.
Carlsberg Group, a Danish brewing business, likewise stated that it had urged its marketing department to do the same. REI, an outdoor equipment and apparel store stated that it would freeze postings as well as advertising expenditures “given the uncertain future of Twitter’s ability to moderate harmful content and guarantee brand safety for advertisers.”
Twitter had 3,900 advertisers in May and 2,300 in August, as per the reports. In September, the figure had risen to 2,900. The analytics firm discovered that General Motors, which suspended its Twitter expenditure last week, spent an average of USD 1.7 million each month on the network.
Before July, when Musk’s spat with Twitter heated up, the site had over 1,000 new advertisers per month, and the number of new advertisers had dropped to 200. Notably, following Musk’s post, a coalition of civil rights and activist organizations held a press conference to advocate for a global advertising boycott of Twitter.