More than 10 million people have signed up for X in December, X CEO Linda Yaccarino said in a post on the social media platform on Thursday. This comes as the company, formerly known as Twitter, risks losing as much as $75 million in advertising revenue by the end of the year as major brands like IBM, Apple, and Disney pause their marketing campaigns on the platform. According to internal documents seen by the New York Times, more than 200 ad units from companies, including Airbnb, Amazon, Coca-Cola, and Microsoft, have either halted or are considering halting their ads on the platform. The move comes after a controversy that erupted in November when X’s founder and chairman, Elon Musk, endorsed a conspiracy theory that falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people on the site.
The exodus of advertisers from X is the latest sign of the struggle faced by the company since it was bought last year by Musk, who has been accused of neglecting content moderation. As a result, the social media platform has seen a surge in hate speech, and its US ad revenue has declined 55 percent since Musk took over, Reuters reported in October.
In her post on Thursday, Yaccarino reassured advertisers that the company is taking steps to address these concerns and is making good progress. She also touted the “healthy behavior of our community,” citing its refusal to amplify posts that are “lawful but awful,” such as racist and antisemitic images or videos.
The CEO stressed that she has “autonomy” from Musk and that X is a healthier, safer place than it was when she first took over. She explained that X’s goal is to be an open platform without censorship and that the company will never compromise its principles.
As for the current ad crisis, Yaccarino noted that “we’ve seen some of our biggest advertisers return to X.” She highlighted Coca-Cola and Visa, saying they have renewed their commitments to the company. She also touted that X has lowered its rate limits, which could help some advertisers regain confidence in the platform.
However, ad experts have said these claims are unlikely enough to sway marketers back to X. In addition to the potential loss of corporate advertisers, X faces a potential drop in political advertising spending. This is a critical revenue stream for Twitter, and ad executives have cautioned other social media platforms to be more vigilant about balancing free speech with responsible content moderation. This is especially important as companies increasingly demand that their messages appear only next to quality content that the most qualified audience will view. And with the 2020 presidential election just around the corner, these concerns will only intensify.