IBM, a leading tech company, has made the decision to pause its advertising on the platform formerly known as Twitter, referred to as X, following a report that revealed its ads were placed next to antisemitic content. A spokesperson for IBM stated, “IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation.” This move comes after Media Matters for America published a report that highlighted ads from various companies, including Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Xfinity, and IBM, being associated with posts promoting Hitler and the Nazi Party on X.
X CEO, Linda Yaccarino, has been actively working to win back advertisers who had withdrawn their campaigns after Elon Musk acquired the company last year. However, concerns have been raised by researchers and advocacy groups about the increasing presence of controversial content on X. The company, though, has disputed these claims. In response to Media Matters’ report, an X spokesperson assured CNBC that the accounts responsible for the hateful content would no longer be monetizable and that the accompanying content would be labeled as not safe for work, thereby limiting its reach. The spokesperson emphasized that X’s advertising system is not intentionally placing brands next to such content nor are brands actively endorsing it.
Following the release of the report, Comcast, the parent company of Bravo and CNBC, has announced that it is investigating the situation. However, Apple and Oracle have yet to respond to requests for comment. IBM’s decision to suspend advertising on X also comes after Elon Musk himself drew attention to an antisemitic post on the platform, which led to significant backlash. Musk faced criticism after making statements alleging that the Anti-Defamation League unjustly attacks the majority of the West despite their support for the Jewish people and Israel. In response, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt denounced Musk’s behavior and stated that it is dangerous to validate and promote antisemitic theories, particularly at a time when antisemitism is on the rise.
Linda Yaccarino, in light of recent events, expressed the company’s unwavering stance against discrimination, emphasizing the need to combat antisemitism in all its forms. She highlighted that discrimination should have no place in the world. However, despite X’s efforts to address these concerns, a coalition of 163 Jewish leaders released a statement under the banner “X Out Hate,” reiterating their demand for major companies like Disney, Apple, and Amazon to stop funding X through their ad spend. The group further called on Apple and Google to remove X from their respective app stores.
X Out Hate has been vocal about their concerns regarding antisemitic and hateful content on X since September. They expressed disappointment that their initial call for action from Apple, Google, Amazon, and Disney has not resulted in any meaningful change. With antisemitism continuing to proliferate on the platform, the coalition demands that action be taken to prevent the further spread of hate.
IBM’s decision to halt advertising on X serves as a significant response to the presence of antisemitic content on the platform. As the controversy unfolds, calls to address this issue from various stakeholders, including advertisers and advocacy groups, continue to amplify. The tech industry must confront and combat hate speech and discrimination to foster an inclusive and respectful online environment for all users.