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IBM suspends advertising on Elon Musk’s X after its ad appeared next to pro-Nazi content

By Liam Reilly and Clare Duffy, CNN

New York (CNN) — IBM on Thursday announced it had suspended advertising on Elon Musk’s X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, after an ad for the computing giant appeared alongside pro-Nazi content.

“IBM has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

The move comes after the progressive media watchdog Media Matters published an analysis that showed the Musk-owned platform had run ads for IBM — as well as for Apple, NBCUniversal’s Bravo, Oracle, and Comcast’s Xfinity — on the pages for multiple accounts championing Adolf Hitler and Nazi ideology. The accounts remained active on X Thursday afternoon, hours after the report was published.

Spokespersons for Apple, Comcast, NBCU and Oracle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In response to the Media Matters report, an X spokesperson told CNN that the platform had conducted a review of the mentioned accounts and determined that they will no longer be monetizable, meaning that ads can no longer run on their pages.

“While we understand it’s not an ideal placement for any ad, the post itself had about 8,000 impressions,” the spokesperson said of one of the posts included in the report that IBM’s ad had run next to.

No brands had specifically targeted the pro-Nazi accounts identified in Thursday’s report for their advertisements, nor did the company intentionally place their ads there, the spokesperson said.

X CEO Linda Yaccarino said in a post Thursday afternoon that the company’s position is that “discrimination by everyone should STOP across the board – I think that’s something we can and should all agree on.” She added: “When it comes to this platform – X has also been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination. There’s no place for it anywhere in the world – it’s ugly and wrong. Full stop.”

IBM is not the first company to part ways with X after its ad appeared next to hateful content. In August, CNN reported NCTA — the Internet and Television Association — and Gilead Sciences paused their spending on the platform after an earlier Media Matters report showed their ads had run on the page of a pro-Nazi account. The same report showed that ads for Adobe, New York University Langone Hospital and the University of Maryland’s football team were also featured on the account. Maryland’s associate athletic director said at the time that it had not spent money on advertising on X since 2021, meaning X may have promoted the post despite it not being a paid ad. (X said at the time that it had run an investigation of the profile and found ad impressions on the page were minimal, and also appeared to have suspended the account.)

An October review by CNN’s Reliable Sources also found advertisements for major companies and organizations appeared on the verified account of VDARE, an openly racist, White supremacist outlet.

IBM’s decision comes as Yaccarino attempts to woo advertisers back to the platform, emphasizing that it’s a safe space for brands and saying in a September tweet that X is committed to “combating antisemitism on the platform.” Yaccarino has also touted new brand safety controls that the company has rolled out that are meant to allow advertisers to prevent their ads from running alongside potentially objectionable content. X says the controls can enable advertisers to avoid having their ads show next to “targeted hate speech, sexual content, gratuitous gore, excessive profanity, obscenity, spam, drugs.”

Renewed concerns around advertisements running alongside pro-Nazi content on X also come after Musk himself on Wednesday agreed with an antisemitic post on X, endorsing the claim that Jewish communities push “hatred against Whites.” And the billionaire also suggested that the Anti-Defamation League promotes racism against White people.

In a post on X Thursday, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt accused Musk of pushing antisemitism.

“At a time when antisemitism is exploding in America and surging around the world, it is indisputably dangerous to use one’s influence to validate and promote antisemitic theories,” Greenblatt wrote.

Musk’s X has also come under fire for reinstating the accounts of users who were previously banned on the social media platform, including far-right and neo-Nazi figures.

–CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this report.

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