Seth Dillon, CEO of the conservative satire website Babylon Bee, was joined by YouTuber Tim Pool in pledging to support X—the social media platform formerly known as Twitter—after a slew of major brands announced earlier this month that they’d be pulling their ads from the service.
Dillon announced his company would be spending $250,000 to advertise on X as a show of “free speech.”
Other right-leaning media outlets have also stepped up, albeit mostly pledging smaller amounts ranging from $2,500 to $40,000. However, as Mashable recently reported, even combined—including the $1 million monthly pledge from “manosphere” influencer Andrew Tate—the total amount that X could hope to receive would be less than $2 million, and perhaps just for a single month.
Apple, which announced last week that it would pull its ads, had been spending more than $100 million per year on X.
X did not respond to a request for comment.
Big Brands Pulling Ads
Apple is also just one of several high-profile brands that had ceased advertising on the platform following comments made by owner Elon Musk that were seen as endorsing antisemitic conspiracy theories. Though the tech entrepreneur had tried to backtrack on his comments, ads from Apple and other brands had been displayed next to antisemitic content that wasn’t removed from the platform.
It was in September that a coalition of 171 Jewish leaders, activists and academics from a group dubbed X Out Hate had urged Apple and other brands to suspend their online advertising after Musk suggested he would file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League. Musk alleged that the group was trying to kill the platform and falsely suggested he was antisemitic.
Last week, the group renewed their calls for the ad brand, writing, “Elon Musk is spreading the kind of antisemitism that leads to massacres. And advertisers are funding the platform that allows him to spread his ideology to hundreds of millions of people.”
Apple, Google, Amazon, Disney, Lions Gate Entertainment, IBM, Comcast, Paramount Global, and Warner Bros Discovery—among others—have since paused their ad campaigns.
“Twitter/X has been bleeding advertisers ever since Elon Musk took over. The recent controversy over Musk’s amplification of an antisemitic post and the appearance of brand ads near neo-Nazi content are just the latest incidents that lead brands to question the value of advertising on the platform,” social media analyst Greg Sterling, co-founder of Near Media, explained.
“The likes of Disney, Apple, and Warner Bros. suspending advertising is a move that hurts X in the short term, especially since Apple is one of the platform’s most visible advertisers,” added Jason Mollica, professorial lecturer in the School of Communication at the American University.
X Still Marks The Spot For Online Promotions
It remains to be seen, however, just how long these brands will continue their pauses. Moreover, the various companies haven’t signed off from X—at least not yet, and they’re unlikely to do so.
“While they are suspending ads, Disney for example, last posted non-ad content on Nov. 16; Warner Bros. Discovery has been posting daily,” Mollica noted.
Conservative Media Steps Up
In the short term Musk has also found some new allies with those right-wing media outlets, but how much they can do beyond pledging support has yet to be seen.
“Right-wing advertisers can’t compensate for the loss of major brands in terms of ad revenue,” Sterling continued.
“Those on the right, especially from the MAGA faction of the party, could buy advertising. But it would never come close to the amounts seen from companies such as Disney or Apple,” Mollica suggested. “Over the last year, X/Twitter has become more divisive; a central reason is Musk’s purchase and the moves made to bring, as he’s called it, ‘free speech’ to the network.”
Could An X Alternative Emerge?
Musk has continued to introduce features that have driven some long-time users away, but it remains a significant force in the social media world. Yet, if the brands pull more than ads, it could signal the end for X.
“I don’t see mainstream brands regaining confidence in Twitter/X as long as Musk continues to do the kind of erratic and unpredictable things that he’s been doing, which include tolerating and even encouraging extremist content,” Sterling warned.
So far no alternative to X has emerged, but it is possible that this latest controversy proves to be a tipping point. It just isn’t clear if there is truly a viable option waiting in the wings.
“Until there is a platform to replace X/Twitter, it will continue to survive,” Mollica explained. “Threads, Meta’s alternative to X, has shown promise and is gaining users, especially after Musk backed an antisemitic conspiracy theory. But Threads is not at a point yet where it will surpass X. If big advertisers continue to withhold or totally stop their ad buys, it could make more of an impact. Until that time, X will remain.”