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Elon Musk threatens ‘thermonuclear name and shame’

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The billionaire has warned that he may identify advertisers that boycott Twitter, enabling backers of free speech to punish them

Twitter owner Elon Musk has warned that he may identify advertisers that are boycotting his social media platform under pressure from leftist groups, a move that would likely trigger counter-boycotts as the billionaire’s supporters push back against corporate America in defense of free speech.

“A thermonuclear name and shame is exactly what will happen if this continues,” Musk said on Friday night, referring to the sharp drop in revenue that he’s seen at Twitter because activist groups are pressuring advertisers to stop using the platform. He made the comment in response to a Twitter post by former US Senate aide Mike Davis, who suggested that exposing the advertisers would enable Musk’s 114 million followers on the platform to launch a counter-boycott.

The Tesla CEO completed his $44 billion takeover of Twitter last week, vowing to restore freedom of speech in America by providing a “digital town square” where a wide range of beliefs can be freely debated. Dozens of left-wing activist groups responded by trying to persuade advertisers to stop doing business with Twitter, arguing that Musk would make it a “direct threat to public safety” by allowing “harmful” content. Some of the groups, such as Media Matters, are backed by activist billionaire George Soros.

Twitter relies on advertising for more than 90% of its revenue, though that may change under Musk, who has begun charging users $8 monthly to have “verified” status on their accounts.

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Musk, who ranks as the world’s richest person with a fortune estimated by Forbes at over $208 billion, said earlier on Friday that Twitter had suffered a “massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation. We did everything we could to appease the activists.” He added that the activists were “trying to destroy free speech in America.”

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Musk fired about half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees to shore up the finances of a business that he claimed was operating at a loss before he took over. “Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately, there is no choice when the company is losing over $4 million a day,” he said. Affected employees were offered three months of severance pay.

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