With Elon Musk acquiring Twitter for $44 billion, advertisers are having nightmares as free speech can kill their prospects on the platform as their brand’s name may appear alongside hate speech and abusive or dangerous content without moderation.
According to a TechCrunch report, if Twitter under Musk “tweaks or revamps its moderation policies, reinstate banned users, or allows hate speech and other dangerous and abusive content to return, then advertisers may leave”.
In 2017, brands and publishers in Europe said they would pull their top dollars from Google-owned YouTube after their ads were “being displayed alongside videos promoting terrorism and anti-semitism”.
“Google quickly responded to give the advertisers more control over their programmatic buys, and would immediately demonetise and pull ads from any creator experiencing a backlash for breaching its guidelines,” said the report.
Musk has said that free speech is the “bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated”.
“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it,” he added.
If Twitter softens its stand on content moderation, it could allow more bullying, violent speech, hate speech, misinformation and other abusive content to gain ground.
“This may make Twitter less palatable to newcomers who were already wary about posting in a ‘public square’.
“It could also disincentivise advertisers from investing their budgets with the platform,” the report added.