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GM Pulls Ads From Twitter After Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Takeover

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Image for article titled GM Pulls Ads From Twitter After Tesla CEO Elon Musk's Takeover

Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor (Getty Images)

Typically, we avoid automotive advertising news like it’s a DM from a high school classmate we haven’t talked to since before graduation. After all, one of the few things more obnoxious that being recruited for some new MLM would be filling this website with articles like, “Automaker Announces Plan To Increase Network Television Spending By 4 Percent In Q4.” But this is a little different.

The Detroit Free Press reports that GM will no longer advertise on Twitter now that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken over the social media platform. Currently, GM says the move is only temporary and that it still plans to provide customer service through its account. The Free Press writes:

It was unclear how long the move would last or what it would cost Twitter, but in a statement to the Free Press, the automaker suggested it is still in conversations with Twitter — which is making what GM called significant changes — to “understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership.”

GM said its decision was consistent with its “normal course of business” to “temporarily pause our paid advertising.” However, the automaker added, it is not abandoning Twitter entirely, as its “customer care interactions on Twitter will continue.”

Considering the fact that Twitter is now essentially owned by a competitor, this move makes sense. GM may also be waiting to see if other automakers do the same thing before it decides to make a permanent decision. We have yet to see any official announcements, but Citroën recently tweeted, “Hello to the social media platform owned by one of our competitors.”

Beyond the question of whether automakers are OK giving millions of advertising dollars to the CEO of one of their competitors, there’s also reason to be concerned that Musk might not treat his competitors fairly on Twitter. But perhaps most importantly, no one knows how significantly he plans to relax the site’s content moderation rules.

There’s already evidence that many of the worst people on the internet see Musk’s takeover as permission to be even more racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-semitic and just downright hateful than they already were. Business Insider reports that in the 12 hours after Musk took control, use of n-word jumped nearly 500 percent.

Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist, has already released a statement saying “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape” and promised to form a content moderation council, which may be reassuring for some advertisers. But if he unbans previously banned accounts and continues to allow online abuse, harassment, doxxing, false rumors and hate speech to proliferate, that’s going to put advertisers in a tough position. Do companies really want to risk their ads showing up right below tweets calling for the mass execution of entire people groups?

Musk has shown much restraint since taking over Twitter. He posted and later deleted a conspiracy theory about the attempted assassination of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from a website that previously reported Hilary Clinton had died and been replaced with a body double on the 2016 campaign trail.

Following a New York Times article on his since-deleted Tweet, Musk responded with a tweet that showed no understanding of the significance of Twitter’s CEO actively spreading misinformation, saying, “This is fake — I did *not* tweet out. a link to the New York Times!”

That tweet was a hit with his supporters, especially those on the far right, but it also does nothing to reassure advertisers that Musk actually plans to take misinformation and hate speech seriously. Without any real reassurance to depend on, we could soon see more companies follow GM’s lead and pull their ads from Twitter.

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