IBM decided to halt its global advertising on Elon Musk’s X platform after a report revealed that the social media site displayed the company’s ads alongside pro-Nazi content. This move adds to the challenges faced by the platform in reviving its sales revenues.
According to a report by Media Matters, which leans left politically, several major brands such as IBM, Apple, Oracle, and Comcast’s Xfinity and Bravo had their ads run alongside content that promoted Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
IBM promptly responded, stating, “IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation.”
Other companies like Comcast are also investigating the matter, while Apple and Oracle have not yet commented on the issue.
Musk relaxed moderation policies and downsized staff involved in safety measures on the platform after his $44bn acquisition last year. This led many brands to withdraw their advertising due to concerns about being associated with harmful content, causing ad revenues to drop around 50%, as Musk disclosed in July.
This development complicates efforts by X’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, to reassure advertisers about the platform’s safety for their brands. Despite Yaccarino’s efforts to meet with ad agencies and brands, assuring them of the company’s technological investments to ensure ad placement alongside desirable content, concerns persist.
Additionally, there have been worries about posts made by Musk himself, as he drew criticism for seemingly endorsing an antisemitic theory in a recent post.
In screenshots provided by Media Matters, an Oracle ad appeared beneath a post featuring Hitler’s image and a quote, while an Xfinity ad was seen under a post praising the Third Reich.
Musk has previously challenged nonprofit groups that suggest the platform is unsafe for users and advertisers. For instance, he threatened legal action against the Anti-Defamation League in September, accusing them of falsely labeling him and the platform as antisemitic, which, according to him, aimed to damage the platform’s reputation.
An X executive mentioned that the account linked to the content where the IBM ad appeared will no longer be eligible for monetization, clarifying that the specific post had been marked “NSFW” (not safe for work) and had received about 8,000 impressions. The executive also emphasized that ad placements are based on user targeting and that control settings are available for users and brands on the platform.