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Linda Yaccarino is resisting growing pressure from advertisers to step down as chief executive of X as major brands pause spending on the platform amid concerns about owner Elon Musk and anti-Semitic content.
Over the weekend, a wave of executives and friends of Yaccarino’s from the advertising industry privately urged her to resign to save her reputation, according to three people familiar with the matter.
However, she has refused to leave her position, two of the people said, telling callers that she believes in X’s mission and its employees. X declined to comment.
Musk, who bought X last year for $44 billion, came under fire last week for publicly endorsing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory on the site. Meanwhile, two reports from the left-leaning non-profit group Media Matters for America last week found ads for top brands next to posts touting “pro-Nazi” and white nationalist content.
The investigation prompted brands including IBM, Apple, Walt Disney, Comcast and Warner Bros to suspend their advertising on the platform for fear of their marketing appearing alongside additional unsavory material. They and other companies are also trying to distance themselves from Musk after his comments.
“I advised Linda via text message to go and [said] that continuing would only damage her reputation,” said Lou Paskalis, managing director of marketing consultancy AJL Advisory and former top media executive at Bank of America. He said brands could face shareholder complaints and potential customer boycotts if they continue to advertise on the platform.
“I would question the judgment of any brand — any brand — that still advertises on X,” he added. “[Musk] has to find a new revenue model as he has killed advertising on the platform, period, period.”
X hired Yaccarino in June to woo marketers back to the platform after many pulled their spending as Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” relaxed his moderation policies and slashed security resources and staff. She is a former advertising executive at NBCUniversal.
A popular industry veteran known for her strong relationships in the sector, she has repeatedly been forced to navigate feedback from users and advertisers over changes made by Musk to the platform and controversial comments he has posted.
Lobbying for Yaccarino to quit began when she attended her daughter’s wedding Saturday, two people said. One of those involved in the effort insisted they had her best interests at heart and described the situation as painful. Forbes first reported on the lobbying efforts.
During his time at the helm, Yaccarino has maintained that X’s safety record is improving. She wrote last week: “X has been extremely clear about our efforts to fight anti-Semitism and discrimination. There is absolutely no place for that anywhere in the world.”
On Sunday, Musk wrote on X: “This past week there were hundreds of fake media stories claiming that I am anti-Semitic. Nothing could be further from the truth. I wish only the best for humanity and a prosperous and exciting future for all.”
A day earlier, Musk vowed to file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters “the split-second court opens on Monday” for what he claimed was a “fraudulent attack” on X.
Media Matters CEO Angelo Carusone said in response: “If he sues us, we will win.” X declined to comment further.