Newly minted Twitter CEO Elon Musk launched an apparent attack on skittish advertisers late Friday as he faces a potentially devastating advertising exodus from the social media giant he just took over.
After Musk said that Twitter “has had a massive drop in revenue” because of “activist groups pressuring advertisers,” a supporter tweeted that the billionaire weaponize his 114 million Twitter followers.
Musk replied: “A thermonuclear name & shame is exactly what will happen if this continues.”
Several companies, including General Motors, Volkswagen Group and Pfizer, have halted their advertising spend on Twitter ― at least temporarily ― as the platform adjusts to Musk’s leadership and his pledge to champion “free speech.”
Before taking over the company late last month, Musk promised advertisers that Twitter would not become a “free-for-all hellscape.” Twitter’s new leadership has reportedly been holding meetings with ad buyers to assure them Musk would not tank Twitter.
Advertisers have long sought to avoid placing their products alongside hateful or violent content. The problem of users posting hateful or violent content on Twitter has been well-documented in the past. The company has tried to implement various solutions, such as labels that warn when content is potentially misleading.
But now it must do so with around half the manpower.
Following the departure of several high-level executives, thousands of Twitter employees were laid off in the past week. Musk promised that the cuts would save the company hundreds of millions, but certain teams were decimated, including those that dealt with managing public trust and safety. Musk says he wants to diversify Twitter’s revenue by charging $8 for a blue check, a badge indicating Twitter has verified that the user is who they say they are.
The turmoil has some people flocking to alternative platforms, such as Mastodon.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey was moved to issue an apology Saturday morning for his former company’s situation.
“I realize many are angry with me. I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly,” Dorsey said. “I apologize for that.”