IBM stops advertising on X after report says ads were run by Nazi content

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc., during a discussion about the risks of artificial intelligence with Rishi Sunak, British Prime Minister, not pictured, in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. Sunak called this week’s AI summit in a attempt to place Britain at the forefront of global efforts to avert the risks posed by rapidly advancing technology, which in the Prime Minister’s own words could extend as far as human extinction. Photographer: Tolga Akmen/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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IBM has paused advertising on X after a report showed the tech company’s ads were placed next to anti-Semitic content on the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination, and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this completely unacceptable situation,” an IBM spokesperson told CNBC in a statement.

Media Matters for America published a report on Wednesday saying the media watchdog “recently found ads for Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Xfinity and IBM next to posts highlighting Hitler and his Nazi Party on X.”

X CEO Linda Yaccarino has been trying to win back advertisers who stopped their campaigns after Elon Musk bought the company last year. Researchers and advocacy groups have documented an increase in controversial content on X, though the company has disputed these claims.

An X spokesperson told CNBC in an email that the accounts that Media Matters said posted the hateful content would no longer be monetized. The bundled content will also be marked as not safe for work, limiting the reach.

X’s advertising system “does not intentionally place a brand actively next to this type of content, nor does a brand actively attempt to support this content with placement,” the spokesperson said. “Groups like Media Matters aggressively search for posts on X and then go to accounts, and if they see an ad, Media Matters researchers keep hitting refresh to capture as many brands as possible.”

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A spokesman for Comcast, which owns Bravo and is also the parent of CNBC, said it is looking into the situation.

Apple and Oracle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

IBM’s decision to halt advertising on X also comes after Musk on Wednesday boosted and drew attention to an anti-Semitic X post and issued statements that drew backlash from critics. In a post, Musk criticized the Anti-Defamation League, claiming that the nonprofit “unfairly attacks the majority of the West, despite the fact that the majority of the West supports the Jewish people and Israel.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt responded in a post on X, saying, “At a time when anti-Semitism is exploding in America and growing around the world, using one’s influence to validate and promote anti-Semitic theories is indisputably dangerous.”

Yaccarino weighed in Thursday and wrote on x that the company’s “view has always been very clear that discrimination against everyone has to STOP across the board — I think that’s something we can and should all agree on.”

“When it comes to this platform – X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to fight anti-Semitism and discrimination,” Yaccarino wrote. “There’s no place for that anywhere in the world – it’s ugly and wrong. Period.”

As a result of Musk’s recent inflammatory comments, a coalition of 163 Jewish leaders issued a statement Thursday under the banner X Out Hate, reiterating their call for major corporations like Disney, Apple and Amazon “to stop funding X through their ad spending.” “

The group also urged “Apple and Google to remove X from their respective app stores according to their own rules.”

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X Out Hate originally expressed their concerns about anti-Semitic and hateful content in September.

“It’s been two months since we originally issued our call to major advertisers like Apple, Google, Amazon and Disney to stop sending money to X as anti-Semitism explodes on the platform,” the group said in the statement. “Nothing has changed. Except the danger Jews are in.”

– CNBCs Jordan Novet contributed to this report

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