An alliance of 51 German organizations announced their “eXit” from X last week, branding their campaign with hashtag #ByeByeElon

An alliance of 51 German organizations announced their “eXit” from X (formerly Twitter) last week, branding their campaign with the hashtag #ByeByeElon. 

In a joint statement, the organizations said, “Hate, incitement, calls for violence, disinformation: since Elon Musk’s takeover, all of this has increasingly become part of everyday behavior on X. Extremism and anti-democracy are increasingly dominating the debates there.”

The organizations, from the fields of environment, health, agriculture,

human rights and social affairs jointly announced the suspension of their activities on X on Tuesday, June 18, coinciding with the International Day for Countering Hate Speech proclaimed by the United Nations.

“Under the guise of supposed freedom of expression, accounts that had already been blocked due to the dissemination of extremist content are being reactivated,” the eXit alliance said in a press release.

In April, Musk reinstated the X account of white supremacist leader Nick Fuentes. The white nationalist has often praised Adolf Hitler and questioned whether the Holocaust happened. The Texas Tribune reported that Fuentes “has called for a ‘holy war’ against Jews and compared the 6 million killed by the Nazis to cookies being baked in an oven.”

Last week, an investigation by the nonprofit Check My Ads found that X placed ads for dozens of brands in the replies below posts that appear to violate the company’s rules against hateful content. The group posted on X:

“Our investigation was prompted by Elon Musk re-platforming known white supremacist Nick Fuentes. While Fuentes himself appears to be demonetized, we kept seeing ads underneath quote tweets of his, and Fuentes is surrounded by an ecosystem of accounts, some apparently monetized, that quote-tweet him. We analyzed those accounts, as well as other white nationalist accounts that are followers-of-followers of Fuentes.” 

In April, a review by NBC News found that “verified” pro-Nazi accounts were flourishing under Musk’s ownership of X. The review identified 150 verified “Premium” accounts that posted or amplified pro-Nazi content. 

Last December, the European Commission announced it was launching a formal investigation into X for potential violations of European law, the Digital Services Act (DSA), including content moderation. 

The German penal code prohibits publicly denying the Holocaust and disseminating Nazi propaganda, both off- and online. This includes sharing images such as swastikas, wearing an SS uniform and making statements in support of Hitler. However, such content, illegal in Germany, still proliferates on X.

In April, a spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed in an email to the Hill Reporter that the EU’s investigation into X under the DSA is “still ongoing” and a topic under investigation is “risk of disseminating illegal content.” 

In January, X’s then-head of business operations Joe Benarroch said the company planned to open a new office in Austin, Texas, for a team that would be dedicated to content moderation, Bloomberg reported. 

But earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Benarrach was no longer with X. CEO Linda Yaccarino fired Benarrach, her right-hand man, under pressure from Musk to boost sales and cut costs, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

“One person familiar with the conversations between Musk and advertisers said X’s management was keen to stress that the platform was safe for brands,” FT reported. “However, some advertising chiefs at Cannes told the Financial Times that the site was not on their ‘preferred’ lists of channels to use with their brand clients.”

X has been losing large advertisers under Musk’s ownership. Ben & Jerry’s was among the first of corporate giants to announce ending paid advertising on Twitter due to the proliferation of hate speech on the platform. “Musk himself has doubled down on dangerous anti-democratic lies and white nationalist hate speech,” the ice cream-making giant said in May 2023. 

That same month, Musk doubled down. He told CNBC in an interview, “I'll say what I want to say, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it.” Consequences have been mounting.

Other large advertisers, including industry giants IBM, Disney, Apple, and others have stopped advertising on X, citing concerns about antisemitism and hate speech. In November, Musk told Andrew Ross Sorkin in an interview at the DealBook Conference, about advertisers who leave X: “Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.” 

In February, an ad on X for French tire-making giant Michelin Group, featuring the General Manager and CFO of Michelin, appeared on a “verified” Premium account that posted a video of Adolf Hitler. 

A spokesperson from Michelin messaged the Hill Reporter: "We were profoundly surprised to discover our video on an account whose views we vehemently condemn, as they are in direct opposition to all of Michelin Group's values. We have, of course, taken immediate action with the X network. We are committed to continually improving our processes to prevent such incidents from happening again in the future."

Meanwhile, X has attempted to assure advertisers of brand safety, and deployed related tools. In April, X announced the hire of Yale Cohen as the new head of brand safety and advertiser solutions. But problems persist. 

Carmaker giant Hyundai paused X ads in April over pro-Nazi content on the platform. The move came after a Hyundai ad appeared next to antisemitic posts from a user who has posted pro-Hitler content, NBC News reported.

Imran Ahmed, CEO of the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate told the Hill Reporter in April, “The site is rife with hate and disinformation.” He said X has a “fundamental misunderstanding” of advertisers’ needs. “It’s not just about ad adjacencies. They [advertisers] don’t want to be in this environment,” he said.

The 51 German eXit organizations say they also don’t want to be in this environment on X: 

“After Elon Musk took over, there was a noticeable increase in violent, discriminatory, and misinformational content. Elon Musk himself equates moderation with censorship and has therefore significantly reduced this [moderation]. At the same time, he has re-approved accounts that clearly pursue an anti-democratic agenda. This is part of X's strategy under Elon Musk, which is why our answer is: Bye Bye Elon!”

No one from X has responded to inquiries. Joe Benarroch, reportedly no longer employed by X, did not respond to inquiries.