Dan Milmo, The Guardian, August 2, 2023
Elon Musk’s rebranded Twitter has accused an anti-hate speech group of costing the social media app “tens of millions of dollars” in revenues after advertisers paused spending on the platform, according to a lawsuit.
A legal filing by the owner of X, the new name for Twitter as of last month, accuses the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) of hurting the business financially through its research of content on the social media service.
The lawsuit filed in a US district court claimed that 16 unnamed advertisers had stopped spending on the platform, paused advertising plans or decided not to reactivate campaigns, after reading CCDH work.
It said at least eight organisations and companies, including multinational corporations that have advertised on X historically, had paused spending on the platform in June and July after reading CCDH reports. The lawsuit added that a further five separate companies, including large multinationals, had paused advertising spending plans around November last year – shortly after Musk’s purchase of the company – after reading CCDH research. Three more companies were not reactivating ad campaigns due to CCDH, the lawsuit said.
The filing said the cost of the advertising postponements ran into tens of millions of dollars.
“Based on the historical spend of the companies and organisations that have paused paid advertising and/or paused plans for future paid advertising, X Corp estimates that it has lost at least tens of millions of dollars in lost revenues as of the date of this complaint, with those amounts subject to increasing as time goes on,” the lawsuit said.
Advertising accounted for 90% of revenues in the last published annual results by Twitter, which covered 2021. Since then, ad revenue has plummeted with Musk tweeting recently that it had halved.
CCDH, a US-UK group, has regularly published research into X’s content since it was bought by Musk for $44bn (£34.4m) in October last year. Advertisers who have paused spending on the platform include carmaker Audi and Pfizer, the pharmaceuticals company.