Ads found next to hateful hashtags on X

Ads found next to hateful hashtags on X

Hateful Ads

Elon Musk’s social media platform X has been found to display advertisements alongside search results for at least 20 hashtags associated with racist and antisemitic extremism. These hashtags include blatant slogans like #whitepower and #whitepride, as well as more coded terms such as #groyper and #kalergi. The discovery was made by NBC News, who searched various problematic hashtags and examined X accounts known for posting hateful content.

Ads from companies like Gearset, Shopify, and MS were found next to these harmful search results. After NBC reached out to X for comment, the platform took action against at least five of the flagged hashtags. However, 15 others, including #whitepower, remained searchable.

Subsequent checks confirmed that hashtags like #whitepride and #unitethewhite were still active on the platform, though without any ads.

Ads surfacing alongside hateful hashtags

Under Musk’s leadership, X’s content moderation policies have undergone significant changes, often weakening previously stricter measures.

This shift has led to the loss of major advertisers, with 74 out of the top 100 US advertisers from October 2022 no longer spending on the platform by May 2023, according to Sensor Tower. X did not dispute NBC’s findings but stated that they had already taken action on several terms and would continue to improve their approach as needed. The company claimed to have clear rules against violent and hateful speech and robust protections for advertisers.

The situation highlights the challenges of content moderation on such a large platform. While it is nearly impossible to identify and block every offensive hashtag, Musk’s previous promise to avoid monetizing such content and his legal actions against critics have drawn further attention to the issue. Organizations like the Center for Countering Digital Hate and Media Matters for America have been vocal about X’s moderation failures, leading Musk to sue them in an apparent attempt to deter further reporting.

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However, NBC, where ExTwitter’s “official” CEO previously worked, may prove to be a more formidable opponent for Musk and his legal team.


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