Is CEO of X, Linda Yaccarino the ultimate glass cliff candidate? 

Is CEO of X, Linda Yaccarino the ultimate glass cliff candidate? 


Less than a week after reports emerged from the US that X (formerly Twitter) was placing ads on the platform “next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party,” the company’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino is resisting public pressure to resign from her role. 

Since last week, Yaccarino, who has only been CEO since June this year has been resisting calls from advertisers and close acquaintances in the industry to step down, even as friends urge her she must do so to “save her reputation,” according to sources who spoke to Financial Times

Yaccarino is managing the backlash created by Elon Musk last Wednesday after he responded to a tweet that accused Jews of hating white people and of having a general indifference to antisemitism with: “You have said the actual truth,” Musk tweeted

“The ADL [Anti-Defamation League] unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel,” he wrote. “This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat. It is not right and needs to stop.” 

Musk has since tried to retract his comment, responding to one comment to not “generalize the Jewish community” by saying: “You’re right that this does not extend to all Jewish communities, but it is also not just limited to ADL.” 

The following day, a report from left-leaning non-profit group, Media Matters for America revealed that ads for major companies such as Apple, NBCUniversal and IBM were appearing on X next to antisemitic and white nationalist content. 

Yaccarino immediately posted on X, saying her company has been “extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination,” adding: “There’s no place for it anywhere in the world — it’s ugly and wrong. Full stop.”

On Saturday, Musk said he would file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters “the split second court opens on Monday” for what he called a “fraudulent attack” on X. 

Media Matters CEO Angelo Carusone said in response: “If he does sue us, we will win.” 

“Musk is no free speech advocate,” Carusone wrote on X. “He’s a bully threatening meritless lawsuits in attempt to silence reporting that he confirmed is accurate. Musk admitted the ads at issue ran alongside the pro-Nazi content Media Matters identified.”

On Sunday, Musk – who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist”- wrote on X: “This past week, there were hundreds of bogus media stories claiming that I am antisemitic. Nothing could be further from the truth. I wish only the best for humanity and a prosperous and exciting future for all.”

Since last week, several major advertisers such as Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Lionsgate, Apple, NBCUniversal have paused their ads on X. 

IBM said in a statement it “has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination, and we have immediately suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation.”

Lou Paskalis, chief executive of marketing consultancy AJL Advisory said he “advise[d] Linda via text to go and [said] that staying would only damage her reputation.” 

“I’d question the judgment of any brand — any brand — that is still advertising on X,” he added. “[Musk] has to find a new revenue model as he has killed advertising on the platform, period, full stop.” 

Meanwhile, Yaccarino has continued to refuse to leave her position. Overnight, she tweeted: 

“What we’re doing at X matters and has everyone’s attention. I believe deeply in our vision, our team, and our community. I’m also deeply committed to the truth and there is no other team on earth working as hard as the teams at X. When you’re this consequential, there will be detractors and fabricated distractions, but we’re unwavering in our mission. Thank you for standing with us!” 

Early Tuesday morning (AEDT Australia), she posted another message on X: “If you know me, you know I’m committed to truth and fairness.”

“Here’s the truth. Not a single authentic user on X saw IBM’s, Comcast’s, or Oracle’s ads next to the content in Media Matters’ article. Only 2 users saw Apple’s ad next to the content, at least one of which was Media Matters. Data wins over manipulation or allegations. Don’t be manipulated. Stand with X.”

Since her appointment in June, Yaccarino has maintained the platform is continually upgrading its safety record. Her appointment came with expectations she would convince marketers and advertisers to return to X.

After Musk acquired the company in April 2022, he eased its moderation policies and reduced safety resources and workers, causing several companies to pull their spending. 

Before taking on her latest role at X, Yaccarino was the Chairman of the Global Advertising & Partnerships division at NBCUniversal, and held various leadership roles at Turner Broadcasting. 

Over the weekend, the 59-year old sent a memo to all X employees, addressing the Media Matters for America report and calling it “misleading.” 

“Across every corner of this company, we’re working to create a platform for everyone. And there is no other platform that’s working as hard to protect free speech like X. Our work is critical, but it’s not always easy. What we’re doing matters, which means it naturally invites criticism from those who do not share our beliefs.”

“While some advertisers may have temporarily paused investments because of a misleading and manipulated article, the data will tell the real story. Because for all of us who work at X, we’ve been extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination, as there’s no place for it anywhere in the world.”

“I want to encourage you to read and listen to all the feedback. On one side, there’s a vocal minority trying to use deceptive attacks to undermine our work. But on the other side, there are vocal supporters and courageous partners who believe in X and the meaningful work you are all doing. Hold on to that and keep pushing forward. No critic will ever deter us from our mission to protect free speech.”

“Let’s keep putting our values to work and lean on one another. I am extremely proud to be on the front line with you all.” 

Meanwhile, on Monday, The Washington Post reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee sent off subpoena-armed US Marshals to Yaccarino for a testimony about online child sexual exploitation in December, after she refused to cooperate. Snap’s Evan Spiegel, has also been subpoenaed.


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