Canadian brands, including Bell Media, suspend advertising on X over 'extremism concerns'

A CBC investigation called out brands like Samsung for having their ads appear in the feeds of X users such as Libs of TikTok.

Canadian brands, including Bell Media, suspend advertising on X over 'extremism concerns'
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A CBC investigation accuses major Canadian brands and groups of advertising on "extremist" accounts on X, the social media platform owned by Elon Musk. 

On Tuesday, the CBC reported that "several prominent Canadian companies and organizations" have paused their advertising on X, adding to the ongoing controversy regarding Musk's managing of the platform. 

The CBC said that it had reviewed about two dozen accounts linked to "white nationalists, white supremacists, misogynists and other extremists" and seen advertisements for brands including Samsung Canada and CF Montréal. 

Samsung ads were also seen in the X feeds of Libs of TikTok and Mike Cernovich. Libs of TikTok, which largely reposts public content made by progressives on social media, has been accused of sparking "anti-trans hatred."

Some companies have already stopped advertising on X after their ads appeared on the feeds of users they found objectionable. After an ad for Noovo, a subsidiary of Bell Media, appeared on the feed of a "far-right fitness leader," the company pulled their promotion. "Despite putting measures in place to protect Noovo from such a situation, it seems that X considered the offensive content from a third party to be moderate, which allowed our ad to appear alongside it," said spokesperson Patrick Tremblay.

"This situation is unacceptable. As a result, we have interrupted Bell Media advertising campaigns on X."

Angus Reid also suspended promotion on X after advertisements for survey participants appeared in the feed of an account called Anti White Watch, which says it documents instances of crime and discrimination against white people.

The insurance company Sun Life also stopped advertising on the platform after Musk took over, but recently a promotional tweet for the brand was seen in the feed of white nationalist Richard Spencer. "We are very concerned that our ad appeared next to disturbing and hateful content and have had it removed from X," said a spokesperson, adding that the appearance of the ad was an error.

Despite concerns from such companies, the Jewish organization B'nai Brith said it would continue to advertise on X, even after its ads appeared in feeds like Spencer's. "B'nai Brith has made a conscious decision to remain on social media," said CEO Michael Mostyn. 

"So if you're making a conscious decision to stay in the social media space ... there's a lot of good and bad that comes with all of that."

Since his purchase of X last year, Musk has come under fire for his approach to content moderation. Reuters reported that ad revenues have dropped by more than 50% year-over-year in every month since the billionaire purchased the platform for approximately $44 billion USD. His critics have accused him of allowing hate speech to proliferate on the platform and endorsing conspiracy theories in his own tweets. 

A Musk tweet last month endorsing the idea that the Jewish community has promoted “hatred against Whites" was widely criticized. Musk later called the tweet "the dumbest post I've ever done" and travelled to Israel to express solidarity with the Jewish state in its ongoing war against the Hamas terror group. 

At a panel a few days later, Musk said that advertisers concerned about his behaviour could take their money elsewhere. "If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go f--k yourself," he said. 

X is now suing the American progressive watchdog group Media Matters for alleging that the platform places ads in the feeds of antisemitic and neo-Nazi users. The lawsuit states that the group's findings are not representative of the average user's experience on X. 

An executive told Fox Business that groups like Media Matters "aggressively search for posts on X and then go to the accounts, and if they see an ad … keep hitting refresh to capture as many brands as possible."

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