Adverts for some of the world’s biggest brands have appeared next to content from a verified pro-Nazi and pro-Hitler account on X.
This is despite X’s CEO Linda Yaccarino (pictured) saying in a recent interview that brands are “protected from the risk of being next to” toxic content and “by all objective metrics, X is a much healthier and safer platform than it was a year ago.”
X has also invested in tools created by Integral Ad Science (IAS) to protect brands from appearing next to hateful content pre-emptively — almost 2,000 brands have reportedly signed up for the tools, as well.
The New American Union account was posting openly fascistic content, as well as content that celebrated and supported Hitler and the National Socialist Party. The account had been verified since April 2023 — under X’s pay-for-verification system — and has thousands of followers, meaning that it was potentially eligible for the company’s revenue-sharing program. The revenue-sharing program gives high-volume and supposedly high-quality creators on the platform a share of ad dollars when their content appears next to adverts.
Here are some examples of the New American Union account’s posts appearing next to promoted content:
The account was spotted by the non-profit firm Media Matters for America which monitors print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation.
The brands that appeared next to the content from the New American Union include:
- Action Network
- Atlanta Falcons
- Corn Nuts / Hormel Foods
- FIFA Women’s World Cup
- Gilead Sciences
- Office Depot
- Sports Illustrated
- The Athletic / The New York Times Co.
- The Herd with Colin Cowherd / Fox Sports
- USA Today
New American Union had also been allowed to continue posting on X despite the platform being aware of its content. On 1 June, the account said that it had been “locked” and then was “restored.” On 24 June, it said that X had found it in violation of the platform’s “rules against violent speech” and had temporarily restricted its ability to post.
On 13 July, the account said it had “been dealing with a mass reporting situation on this account.”
On 16 August, X suspended the account after Media Matters published about it. CNN journalists then followed up with some of the brands in question and said that “spokespeople for NCTA and pharmaceutical company Gilead said that they immediately paused their ad spending on X after CNN flagged their ads on the pro-Nazi account.”
They added: “Wednesday’s report suggests that the company still has work to do if it wants to avoid monetizing, and placing ads alongside, objectionable content.”
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