The Washington Post reported that white supremacists’ Twitter accounts included advertisements for 40 well-known companies and groups. The malicious Twitter accounts promoted products from corporations like Amazon, Uber, Snap, and GoDaddy; news outlets like USA Today and Morning Brew; and even the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Andrew Anglin’s and Patrick Casey’s accounts hosted the advertisements. Casey was the former leader of the white supremacist organisation Identity Evropa, and Anglin is the editor of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer (later rebranded as the American Identity Movement). Both users were permanently suspended from Twitter in 2013 and 2019, respectively. In the wake of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, the CEO conducted a poll asking whether or not his followers would like to see the site provide a “universal amnesty” to suspended accounts; the results showed overwhelming support for doing so (over 70%). Anglin and Casey returned to the platform in full view shortly after.
Ads appeared alongside white supremacist messages on pages with titles like “No White Guilt Clips” and “White Power Ranger,” according to the Washington Post.
As reported by The Washington Post, the US Department of Health and Human Services has decided to remove its Twitter advertisement because “having it appear on abusive Twitter channels is incongruous with [its] beliefs.” Considering “this does not align with [its] values or mission,” USA Today announced that it would contact Twitter.
It has been widely reported that Twitter has disbanded its press division. The advertisements on Anglin and Casey’s accounts had stopped appearing as of this writing. The Washington Post quotes a former Twitter employee saying that pages on the social media platform need to be flagged to keep advertisements from showing up on them.
The paper draws attention to problems that have arisen as a result of Elon Musk’s moderation strategies on Twitter. Musk calls himself a “free speech absolutist.” In the months following his Twitter takeover, he made it clear that he desired a more relaxed approach to censorship on the platform. After assuming power, he quickly undid the suspensions of Donald Trump and Babylon Bee’s accounts. Brands are concerned that their ads may be shown alongside offensive material. Still, Musk has tried to reassure them by saying that he had no intention of turning Twitter into a “free-for-all hellscape” before he acquired the company.
For example, the Twitter product trust and safety team has been decimated by numerous layoffs. (In a recent blog post, Twitter argues otherwise, claiming that the team “remains robust and well-resourced”. As a result of the alterations, two major advertising firms suggested that companies suspend their advertising on the social media platform. However, it has been claimed that Apple and Amazon have renewed their Twitter advertising.