IBM announced that it had pulled its global advertising campaign from Elon Musk’s X after a report revealed that the social media platform was running the tech company’s ads alongside pro-Nazi materials. This is a new blow to the company’s efforts to regain sales revenue.
Media Matters, a left-leaning nonprofit, released a report on Thursday stating that it found ads for big brands such as IBM, Apple and Oracle, and Comcast’s Xfinity, Bravo and Xfinity running alongside content “that promotes Adolf Hitler, his Nazi Party, and other Nazis”.
IBM issued a statement saying that it has “zero tolerance” for hate speech or discrimination. The company immediately halted all advertising on X as they investigate the situation.
Comcast confirmed that it is looking into the issue. Apple and Oracle didn’t immediately respond to our request for comment.
Musk relaxed moderation and safety policies when his $44bn purchase closed last year. was concerned about the potential harm that toxic content could cause to brands and pulled out their advertising. Musk stated in July that ad revenues had fallen by about 50%.
This news will complicate efforts made by X CEO Linda Yaccarino in reassuring marketers that their brands are safe on the platform. Yaccarino has been meeting with brands and ad agencies, and insisting that the company invests in technology in order to make sure brands are displayed next to desirable content.
Musk’s posts have also caused concern for some brands. Musk, the Tesla CEO, drew some criticism on Wednesday when he seemed to endorse a post that promoted an antisemitic belief.
Yaccarino wrote in a blog post soon after the publication of the article that “X’s view has always made it very clear that all discrimination should stop.” “When it comes down to this platform – X has been very clear about our efforts in combating antisemitism, and discrimination.”
Media Matters placed an Oracle advert underneath a photo of Hitler with a quote from him regarding “truth” in one screenshot. A screenshot from Media Matters showed an Xfinity ad below a post praising Hitler’s Third Reich.
Musk has publicly challenged non profit groups in the past over their research that suggests the platform is unsafe for advertisers and users. Musk, for example, threatened to sue Anti-Defamation League in September, a civil-rights organization that fights against antisemitism. Musk claimed that the group was trying to “kill” this platform and me by falsely accusing them of being antisemitic.
A X executive told Media Matters that the account Media Matters discovered next to the IBM advertisement would no longer be monetizable. The specific post was labelled as “NSFW”, which means not safe for the workplace.
The executive stated that “while we understand that it is not the ideal place for an ad, this post had approximately 8,000 impressions.”
User targeting is achieved by “Ads following the people on X”. In this case, the Media Matters researcher who was actively looking for this content. The platform has control settings for each user and brand.