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Guinness, Cadbury’s and Nissan told to avoid ‘toxic’ and ‘dangerous’ Twitter

Elon Musk Twitter - DADO RUVIC/REUTERS
Elon Musk Twitter - DADO RUVIC/REUTERS

Nissan, Cadbury’s, and Guinness-brewer Diageo have been told to avoid “dangerous” and “toxic” Twitter by their marketing agency, as an advertising boycott of the company under Elon Musk gathers pace.

Tamara Littleton, chief executive of The Social Element, said she had told her clients to suspend advertising on Twitter after widespread redundancies and resignations gutted the company’s content moderation teams.

“With the sackings and the resignations, in brand protection and moderation, it is just a little bit too toxic,” Ms Littleton told the Telegraph.

Her advice to clients was to “monitor what's going on, monitor for brand protection issues – you know, your logo being used, or name being [misused] – slow down on proactive engagement, pause paid advertising, but don't step off the platform completely.”

The Social Element works with clients including Cadbury’s owner Mondelez, Nissan and fizzy drink maker Dr Pepper, advising them on social media marketing campaigns.

Diageo, another client, confirmed it is keeping its brands active on Twitter but did not say whether it had suspended advertising.

Nissan UK and Mondelez did not respond to requests for comment.

Companies including Volkswagen, Pfizer and Cheerios maker General Mills have all halted campaigns on Twitter since Mr Musk’s $44bn (£37bn) takeover in October. Omnicom, one of the world’s biggest advertising companies, has also advised clients to stay off the site.

The growing boycott comes amid concerns about misinformation and impersonation on Twitter.

Mr Musk dismissed 3,700 staff, including members of moderation teams who delete prohibited and illegal content from the site, immediately after taking control of the company.

“It’s a dangerous place because there aren’t the people in charge looking after the measures that help with brand protection,” said Ms Littleton.

As well as concerns about moderation, Mr Musk has allowed people to buy a blue tick for £7-a-month. Blue ticks were previously reserved for accounts whose identity had been officially verified, leading to concerns about impersonation.

Around $15bn (£12.6bn) was wiped from the market value of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly earlier this week after pranksters registered a blue tick account using Eli Lilly’s name and posted that insulin, one of its key products, was being made free of charge in the US.

Eli Lilly has since suspended advertising on Twitter and paused publishing, the Washington Post reported.

Despite concerns about manpower at Twitter, Mr Musk has continued to fire people, including apparent public sackings carried out on the site.

In response to a tweet from Mr Musk criticising the speed at which Twitter loads on mobile phones, software developer Eric Frohnhoefer said: “I have spent ~6yrs working on Twitter for Android and can say this is wrong.”

Mr Musk responded “He’s fired” but later deleted the tweet. Mr Frohnhoefer later posted a picture of his remotely locked work computer with the caption: “Guess it’s official now”.

One former Twitter software engineer, Nicholas Robinson-Wall, said remaining staff have a “moral duty to disobey, to strike, to protest, to quote tweet Elon when he lies on Twitter”.

Mr Musk told staff last week that the company faces potential bankruptcy unless they pull together. The mercurial billionaire, who was the world’s richest person before he acquired Twitter, has claimed the website is losing $4m a day.

Twitter must pay $1.2bn (£1bn) in interest payments within the next 12 months on a $13bn debt pile amassed by the Tesla chief while financing his buyout.