Several advertising executives are urging the Chief Executive Officer of X (formerly Twitter) to resign from her role in the wake of an advertiser exodus and scrutiny over owner Elon Musk’s antisemitic remarks on the platform. According to CNN, over the weekend, a “groundswell” of advertising executives contacted Ms Yaccarino, who was hired in June to rebuild X’s relationship with advertisers, concerned that Musk’s content moderation changes were allowing hateful and toxic speech to flourish on the site.
Last week, Musk endorsed an X post that shared a conspiracy theory claiming Jewish people systematically plot to encourage the immigration of non-white people into Western countries to weaken white majorities and ultimately eliminate them from the world. The conspiracy theory was used to justify a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last year, and it’s widely considered to be antisemitic. X’s response to the post was swift and public, but it failed to address the concerns of many critics who believe Musk’s endorsement was a disservice to the platform’s users.
In addition, a report from Media Matters for America on Monday claimed that ads for major companies like Amazon, Apple, and NBCUniversal were appearing alongside posts promoting Hitler and the Nazi party on X. The report infuriated Musk, who accused the nonprofit of defamation and a “scare campaign.”
A former NBCUniversal exec, Ms Yaccarino, has been working to repair X’s image after hundreds of significant advertisers stopped spending on the platform in the days and weeks after he bought it in late April. The brands were concerned that X’s easing content restrictions would allow hateful and potentially illegal content to appear next to their ads. X claims that its new policies result in less inflammatory content. Still, the Council for Countering Digital Hate, an independent nonprofit that tracks hate speech on social media, disagrees with that assertion.
Ms Yaccarino has tried to reassure her remaining clients that X has better brand safety controls than other social networks. Still, her efforts have yet to rekindle enthusiasm amongst advertising buyers. One marketing industry veteran told CNN that he sent Ms Yaccarino a text on Monday urging her to leave X before her reputation was “damaged.”
Despite losing significant advertisers, Ms Yaccarino maintains that X will return to profitability in early 2024. She also says that despite the controversy surrounding Musk’s antisemitic comments, she remains steadfast in protecting free speech on X.
Ms. Yaccarino has yet to respond to the calls to resign, but she tweeted on Monday morning that “a vocal minority is trying to use deceptive attacks to undermine our work.” She added that X will continue to put users first, even if it means the company won’t be profitable.