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Leaders of major civil rights groups are denying allegations made by Elon Musk, who said they violated an agreement with him by encouraging companies to stop advertising on Twitter.

Musk tweeted Tuesday that “a large coalition of political/social activist groups has agreed not to try to kill Twitter by depriving us of ad revenue if I agree to this condition. They broke the deal.”

Musk did not provide details on the agreement. He was responding to one of his followers who accused Twitter’s new owner of lying when he promised in October that he would form a content moderation board and that “no major decisions about content or account recovery will be made until that board come together’.

Over the weekend, after conducting an informal poll on Twitter, Musk and the platform reinstated former President Donald Trump’s account, which was permanently kicked out under the previous administration following the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

Twitter management in 2021 feared that Trump’s presence and continued use of the site could lead to further violence as he continued to falsely claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Earlier this month, multiple civil rights groups called on advertisers to pause ads on Twitter after a spike in hate speech on the site and after the company laid off thousands of employees, a move they feared would hamper the company’s ability to moderates hate speech and other problematic content.

Derrick Johnson, CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in response to Musk’s claims on Tuesday that civil rights groups “would never do a deal like this” and that “democracy always comes first.”

“The decisions being made on Twitter are dangerous, and it is our duty, as it has been since our founding, to speak out against threats to our democracy,” Johnson said. “Hate speech and violent conspiracies can have no safe harbor.”

In a statement to CNBC, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and a Free Press echoed Johnson’s sentiment and said there was “no such deal” with Musk.

“Musk is losing advertisers because he’s been irresponsible, cutting content moderation teams that help protect brands and gutting the very sales teams responsible for maintaining relationships with advertisers,” the Free Press said in a statement. “The main person responsible for the exodus of advertisers on Twitter is Elon Musk.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of the Global Social Action Program at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told CNBC that he found Musk’s tweet “unclear.” SWC, along with 180 other NGOs, sent a letter to Musk last week urging Twitter to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism to “reduce the marketing opportunities of anti-Semites on the social media platform.”

Cooper said the letter was “not a threat” and that the groups were not “threatening a boycott” against Twitter.

“We’re essentially asking Elon Musk, who we all know is a pretty creative person, to take the lead in this area,” Cooper said. He said his organization has seen a noticeable increase in anti-Semitic content in the past two weeks.

According to an internal Twitter communication obtained by CNBC, agencies and brands that stopped advertising on Twitter after Musk took over the company are now awaiting updates on changes to the company’s leadership, specifically the teams working on brand safety. They also want answers to questions about how Twitter Blue verification will work in the future and how Twitter plans to prevent branding.

Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter rolled out and immediately brought back the Twitter Blue Verified subscription service, after users who purchased the badges could impersonate celebrities, politicians and brands. For example, an account created in the image of a pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly posted fake tweets saying, “Excited to announce that insulin is now free.” The company attempted to correct the misinformation and suspend the impersonator’s account.

Advertisers’ concerns are not limited to the issues raised by civil rights leaders. They also wanted assurances that Twitter will be safe from hackers because so many employees are resigning or laid off, and they want more communication from new management about changes to the product and the company.

WATCHING: Musk says Twitter Blue will relaunch on November 29

Elon Musk has himself to blame for Twitter’s advertising woes, civil rights groups say – Digital Tech Blog

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