Elon Musk tried to quell the concerns of advertisers that Twitter under his leadership may not be a safe place for brand marketing, acknowledging the platform needs to remove or hide hate speech and other unsavory posts.
“It stands to reason that if somebody is advertising that they do not want super negative information right next to their ad, or content that may be inappropriate,” Musk acknowledged on a Twitter “Spaces” call broadcast live on the site. “So we are going to work hard to make sure that there is not bad stuff right next to an ad, which really doesn’t serve anyone any good.”
Musk spoke on a public chat that reached more than 114,000 listeners, including a number of official brand accounts such as Target, Pandora, Chipotle and Chevron. The service has seen a number of major brands pause ad spending in recent weeks since Musk bought Twitter Inc. and took it private on Oct. 27.
The billionaire, who is running the platform and calls himself the “Chief Twit,” has been open about his plans to bring “free speech” back to Twitter, and many are worried that will mean repealing a number of policies that keep other types of hate and racist posts off the service.
“I don’t think having hate speech next to an ad is great, obviously,” Musk said.
David Cohen, chief executive officer of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, was the one non-Twitter employee who was able to question Musk during the Spaces appearance. Cohen asked how marketers should think about Musk’s personal brand, which can be inappropriate and controversial, and how it blurs with Twitter’s corporate image.
“Obviously Twitter cannot simply be some extension of me because then anyone who doesn’t agree with me will be put off,” he said. “So Twitter must be, as a platform, as neutral as possible. That doesn’t mean I am completely neutral. That would be untruthful, I am not neutral. No person is.”
The roughly 45-minute long conversation was wide-ranging, with Musk addressing a number of other aspects of the service, including his plans for an $8-per-month subscription service and hopes of building more commerce into Twitter.
He said Twitter is also considering ways to encourage people to connect their bank or credit card accounts to the social network, possibly even the idea of moving cash into the service and holding it like a bank.