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Elon Musk’s free-speech agenda at Twitter is ‘perpetuating racism,’ McDonald’s marketing chief reportedly says in leaked email

Elon Musk, wearing a black suit and tie, waves to photographers outside a courthouseElon Musk is CEO of Twitter.

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  • Semafor reported that execs at some big advertisers had concerns about Elon Musk’s “racist rhetoric.”
  • McDonald’s marketing chief feared Musk was “perpetuating racism” under “the guise of freedom of speech.”
  • A Colgate-Palmolive exec said she was “mindful of the harmful and often racist rhetoric” of Musk, per Semafor.

Representatives of big advertisers including McDonald’s and Colgate-Palmolive expressed concern that Elon Musk’s free speech agenda at Twitter is “perpetuating racism,” according to an email chain obtained by Semafor.

The Twitter CEO is scheduled to be interviewed on April 18 at an advertising conference in Miami organized by trade body MMA Global. NBCUniversal ad chief Linda Yaccarino will ask him why advertisers should return to Twitter. 

The social media platform’s revenue plunged in December after half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers pulled out in the month following Musk’s controversial takeover in late October. More than two-thirds of these advertisers had not returned by late February, according to Pathmatics, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Musk previously said he bought Twitter to make the social media app a “digital town square” that prioritized free speech. However, his methods have been condemned by some politicians, celebrities, and advertisers – with some saying it’s done the opposite.

Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s chief marketing and customer experience officer, wrote in the email thread seen by Semafor: “For many communities, his willingness to leverage success and personal financial resources to further an agenda under the guise of freedom of speech is perpetuating racism resulting [in] direct threats to their communities and a potential for brand safety compromise we should all be concerned about.”

“Further, all of us who lead our brand’s investments across platforms were required to navigate a situation post-acquisition that objectively can only be characterized as ranging from chaos to moments of irresponsibility,” he added, per Semafor.

Colgate-Palmolive’s consumer experience general manager, Diana Haussling, said she was “mindful of the harmful and often racist rhetoric of Elon Musk,” according to the report.

Haussling added, per Semafor: “While I am a huge supporter of free speech and enterprise, we can not ignore the impact of such hate speech. I especially can’t ignore it as a black woman.”

Albertsons’ retail media head, Kristi Argyilan, also reportedly voiced her concerns.

Semafor reported that Chris Riedy, Twitter’s global sales and marketing chief, didn’t defend Musk in his response but thanked the advertisers for their feedback.

“Twitter needs each of you and your feedback is critical to shaping what the company can become – Elon will be in Miami for the majority of the day Tuesday and wants to hear from you,” he said, according to the report of the email chain.

Riedy added: “To that end, and in an effort to foster the most healthy conversation possible and to give each of you the opportunity to address him directly, how about we get this group together with Elon immediately after the session with Linda?”

Insider contacted Twitter for comment. The company responded with an automated message that didn’t address the inquiry.

Hassan, Haussling, Argyilan, McDonald’s, Colgate-Palmolive and Albertsons did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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