Walmart the Latest Firm to Announce Pulling Ads From X

An X executive said Walmart hasn’t advertised on X since October.
Walmart the Latest Firm to Announce Pulling Ads From X
Bill Pan

Walmart stated on Dec. 1 that it has pulled advertisements from X, joining a list of big advertisers to leave the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“We aren’t advertising on X as we’ve found some other platforms better reach our customers,” Walmart said in a statement.

Although Walmart announced its pullout on Dec. 1, Joe Benarroch, head of operations at X, said the retail giant had already stopped advertising on the platform a while ago.

“Walmart has not advertised on X since October, so this is not a recent pause; the company has just been organically connecting with its community of more than one million people on X,” Mr. Benarroch said in a statement.

“Walmart has a wonderful community on X, and with a half a billion people on X, every year the platform experiences 15 billion impressions about the holidays alone with more than 50 percent of X users doing most or all of their shopping online.”

The announcement comes two days after X’s billionaire owner, Elon Musk, lashed out at big advertisers whom he accused of trying to “blackmail” him.

“Don’t advertise,” Mr. Musk said onstage at the DealBook conference when Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times asked him about the recent advertiser exodus.

“You don’t want them to advertise?” Mr. Sorkin said.

Mr. Musk responded, “If somebody’s going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go [expletive] yourself.”

The X owner then waved to the audience and said, “Hey, Bob,” referring to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who spoke earlier that day at the event.

Mr. Musk nonetheless acknowledged that the loss of advertising revenue could hurt and potentially even “kill” his company. But in that case, he said, history would blame advertisers, not him, for X’s downfall.

“The whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company, and we will document it in great detail,” he told Mr. Sorkin.

Mr. Musk also apologized for endorsing a post he had described as “the actual truth,” in which an X user said Jews in the Western world are experiencing the same kind of “dialectical hatred” they purportedly helped spread against white people.

“I am quite sorry​. I should in retrospect not have replied to that particular post,” he said, after calling it “one of the most foolish if not the most foolish thing I’ve ever done on the platform.”

Companies that are known to have paused or stopped spending on X in the past few weeks include Apple, Disney, IBM, NBCUniversal and its parent company Comcast, Paramount Global, and Warner Bros. Discovery.

Mr. Musk has attributed the tense relationship with major advertisers to progressive advocacy groups such as Media Matters, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In their reports, these groups took issue with the lax moderation of content promoting what they called “anti-Semitic conspiracies,” portraying X as a platform where hate speech flourishes under Mr. Musk’s leadership.

For example, in one of CCDH’s reports regarding X, the London-based left-wing group stated that it identified 200 X posts across 101 accounts that featured “hate speech” and reported each of them using X’s reporting tools. According to the CCDH, 196 of the 200 posts remain online, while one account was suspended and two were locked after being reported.

In August, X sued the CCDH, accusing it of conducting “a scare campaign to drive away advertisers.” In its complaint, filed in a federal court in California, the social media company alleged that CCDH and its British affiliate are “advocating for censorship on the internet” while “masquerading as research agencies.”

Media Matters, a left-wing media watchdog, also published a report stating that ads from companies such as Apple, IBM, Bravo, Oracle, and Xfinity have appeared next to “content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.”

In a statement, X said Media Matters’ report “completely misrepresented the real user experience on X, in another attempt to undermine freedom of speech and mislead advertisers.” X has since filed a defamation lawsuit against the group.

Mr. Musk has also threatened to sue the ADL for defamation, claiming that the Jewish organization’s report about rising hate speech on X has seriously damaged the company’s advertising revenue.

“Our U.S. advertising revenue is still down 60 percent, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by ADL (that’s what advertisers tell us), so they almost succeeded in killing X/Twitter!” Mr. Musk wrote on X in September.

He also claimed that the ADL “has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing” it and him “of being anti-Semitic” ever since he purchased the platform in October 2022.

“To clear our platform’s name on the matter of anti-Semitism, it looks like we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League ... oh the irony!” Mr. Musk said.