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Elon Musk tries to distract from Twitter layoffs by claiming advertisers are fleeing the platform

Elon Musk tries to distract from Twitter layoffs by claiming advertisers are fleeing the platform


The Chief Twit claims there’s been a ‘massive drop in revenue’ that somehow threatens free speech. Or, you know, he’s just trying to change the subject.

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Image of Elon Musk with red flourishes in the background.
Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images

We’re one week into Elon Musk’s stewardship of Twitter, and according to Musk, it has already spurred a “massive drop in revenue.” Or not, and that’s just what Musk is saying to distract everyone from the absolutely heartless layoffs of thousands of people that have already spurred one federal lawsuit. But you know, here’s the tweet:

It’s not unreasonable to assume Twitter has had a drop in revenue: many huge companies — GM, General Mills, and Audi are just a few names on the list — have paused advertising campaigns during Musk’s tumultuous takeover and ongoing mass firing event. In his version of events, the failure of advertisers to provide revenue to what’s left of his company is an attempt to “destroy free speech in America.”

The responsibility of advertisers to support free speech as a principle is unclear, but their general approach to spending has a bias toward stability and brand safety. The day after Musk took over Twitter and began by firing its CEO, CFO, policy chief, and lead counsel, the executive in charge of leading its advertising business and brand partnerships, Sarah Personette, resigned.

Musk has said he wants Twitter to turn away from advertising as a primary revenue source, but his $8 per month Twitter Blue package with preferential tweet placement, blue check verification status, and fewer ads hasn’t launched yet.

While he waits to attract millions of users to pay for Twitter features that used to be free, the business he just bought attributed 89 percent of last year’s $5 billion in revenue to advertising. That’s likely why Musk began his tenure with a pitch to advertisers, telling them Twitter won’t become a “free-for-all hellscape.”

Now, he’s blaming their exit on “activist groups pressuring advertisers” without providing evidence of that while similarly making an unverified claim that “we did everything we could to appease the activists.” Everything that could be done is apparently a 45-minute Zoom call with representatives from seven nonprofits who wanted to discuss how Musk would handle hate speech on Twitter.