Cossette, the media agency in charge of ad buying for many Canadian government agencies, has reportedly advised them to pause advertising on Twitter.
According to CBC News, the agency issued guidance Friday to “pause activity immediately and monitor the situation over the weekend” due to “unknown continuity plans for moderation” and a “heightened risk of brand safety.”
Elon Musk arrived at Twitter just over a week ago and quickly fired top executives and the board of directors, installing himself as the company’s sole director.
On Friday, he began mass layoffs at the San Francisco-based company, letting go about half of of its workers via email to return it to staffing levels not seen since 2014.
Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, tweeted Friday that only 15 per cent of the team responsible for moderation and safety was affected and “our core moderation capabilities remain in place.”
Cossette is said to help with “media planning and strategizing, media buying, ad serving and trafficking, ad verification, reporting and reconciliation services, to support a variety of government initiatives.”
The federal government spent over $3 million on Twitter ads through Cossette from 2020 to 2021, according to its most recent annual report.
More than three dozen advocacy organizations wrote an open letter to Twitter’s top 20 advertisers, calling on them to commit to halting advertising on the platform if Twitter under Musk undermines “brand safety” and guts content moderation.
“Not only are extremists celebrating Musk’s takeover of Twitter, they are seeing it as a new opportunity to post the most abusive, harassing, and racist language and imagery. This includes clear threats of violence against people with whom they disagree,” the letter said.
Numerous major companies have pressed pause on advertising on Twitter, including General Mills, General Motors, Pfizer and Volkswagen.
Musk has responded by calling out what he described as “activist groups” pressuring advertisers to drop Twitter, accusing them of “trying to destroy free speech in America.”
On Saturday, the company announced a subscription service for $7.99 monthly that allows anyone on Twitter to pay a fee for the check mark “just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow” as well as some premium features — not yet available — like getting their tweets boosted above those coming from accounts without the blue check.