Civil Rights Leaders Want Advertisers to Boycott Twitter After Trump Is Reinstated: 'The Platform Is Not Safe'

Elon Musk and Trump
Elon Musk and Trump

Getty (2) Elon Musk, Donald Trump

A coalition of civil rights groups is asking advertisers to boycott Twitter following Elon Musk's decision to allow Donald Trump back on the platform — and saying the platform's new owner broke a promise to consult social justice leaders and advocates about content moderation.

Twitter, under its previous leadership, had "permanently suspended" Trump's account following the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. At the time, the company made the choice because of what it said was a "risk of further incitement of violence."

Earlier this month, not long after Musk finalized his deal to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, the new owner launched a poll to ask his followers whether the former president should be allowed back on the platform. Over 51 percent of participants voted in favor allowing Trump back on the site.

"The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated," Musk tweeted after the results.

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In a tweet on Saturday, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Derrick Johnson called on advertisers to suspend deals with Twitter after Musk's reinstatement of Trump following his ban.

"Any advertiser still funding Twitter should immediately pause all advertising now," Johnson wrote.

On Sunday, #StopToxicTwitter, a group made up of over 60 civil rights organizations, released a joint statement calling for an advertising boycott of Twitter.

"Unless and until Musk can be trusted to enforce Twitter's prior community standards, the platform is not safe for users or advertisers," the statement said. "For those still advertising on Twitter right now: know that you are contributing directly to an erratic billionaire's decimation of Twitter and its rapid devolution into utter chaos."

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also criticized Musk's decision to invite Trump to return to the platform.

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"For @elonmusk to allow Donald Trump back on Twitter, ostensibly after a brief poll, shows he is not remotely serious about safeguarding the platform from hate, harassment and misinformation," Greenblatt said in a series of tweets.

("Hey stop defaming me!" Musk replied.)

"As we've said before, Trump used Twitter to foment intolerance, issue threats and incite a violent attack against the US government. Moreover, he has shown no indication that he would do anything different if given the opportunity," he continued.

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Greenblatt later added: "@elonmusk's decisions over the last month have been erratic and alarming, but this decision is dangerous and a threat to American democracy. We need to ask — is it time for Twitter to go?"

As of Wednesday afternoon, Trump has not yet posted anything new on the social media site.

According to data analyzed by The Washington Post, more than a third of the platform's top 100 clients have not advertised on Twitter in the past two weeks.

One of them, Mars, cited "significant brand safety and suitability incidents that impacted our brand" in its decision to suspend marketing on Twitter, the Post reported Tuesday.

Musk had sought to soothe advertisers' fears over his Twitter takeover as the deal closed in late October.

"Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints," Musk said in a Oct. 28 tweet, adding that "No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes."

When a user called that statement "completely fictional" on Tuesday, Musk replied.

"A large coalition of political/social activist groups agreed not to try to kill Twitter by starving us of advertising revenue if I agreed to this condition," he wrote. "They broke the deal."

Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González was one of the leaders who met with Musk earlier this month. According to the advocacy and media reform organization, Musk invited participants at the meeting to join the proposed content moderation council but he "never followed up."

"In less than three weeks, Musk has gone back on every promise he made to civil-rights leaders and advertisers," González said in a statement.

"Musk's reinstatement of Trump's account involved no clear process, but relied on the results of a flimsy Twitter poll," she continued. "Musk took this careless decision without convening the new council he promised to protect Twitter users ... As far as I can tell this new council doesn't exist."