IBM has just announced that it will suspend global advertising on Elon Musk's X after finding out its ads are being displayed alongside pro-Nazi content, further setting the platform's efforts to stabilize revenue.
Non-profit Media Matters released a report on Thursday revealing ads from major brands like IBM, Apple, Oracle, Comcast’s Xfinity and Bravo appearing alongside content "that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party."
In response, IBM said it has "zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination" and declared an immediate suspension of all advertising on X pending an investigation.
X’s Moderation Policies Worsened With Musk in Charge
In 2022, X owner Elon Musk relaxed policies and reduced staff overseeing platform safety.
AJ Brown and Ella Irwin, two Heads of Brand Safety and Product Quality in X in charge of ensuring ads don't appear alongside inappropriate content on the platform, departed from the company in June.
These developments led to a significant drop in ad revenues, with brands withdrawing due to concerns about being associated with toxic content.
The controversy complicates X CEO Linda Yaccarino's efforts to reassure marketers about the platform's safety for brands. Despite Yaccarino's reassurances and claims of technology investments to ensure brand safety, the recent incident raises doubts.
Concerns also extend to Musk's posts; a recent incident involved him seemingly agreeing with a supposedly antisemitic opinion. Screenshots provided by Media Matters depicted Oracle and Xfinity ads alongside posts praising Hitler and the Third Reich.
Musk, known for challenging non-profit groups critical of X's safety, has previously clashed with organizations like the Anti-Defamation League.
Musk Faces a New Complaint From a U.S. Ad Watchdog
To make matters worse for Musk, his recent alterations to advertising policies may lead to consequences, as online advertising watchdog Check My Ads officially complained to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The independent organization dedicated to monitoring ad-tech companies, submitted the complaint on Wednesday urging an investigation into X's advertising practices.
The complaint mainly revolves around recent modifications to the platform, wherein it becomes unclear whether a user is viewing an advertisement.
X often fails to notify users that they are looking at an ad at all, as highlighted by Mashable's reporting referenced in Check My Ads' complaint to the FTC.
Previously, Musk's platform distinctly labeled ads with a "Promoted" tag attached to the bottom of paid content. However, users observed the disappearance of the "Promoted" label on paid posts based on several occasions.
In its place, a new "ad" label was introduced in the upper-right corners of posts, with much less visibility than the original "Promoted" disclosure.