Musk says Twitter saw revenue slump as activist groups pressured advertisers

New owner Elon Musk said on Friday that Twitter Inc had seen a “massive” drop in revenue and blamed activist groups pressuring advertisers.

The world’s richest person, who took control of the social media company last week, said the decline came “even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.”

“Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America,” he said in a tweet.

It was not immediately clear who Musk was referring to as “activists”.

Twitter recorded a fall in revenue in its last reported quarterly results in July, blaming Musk’s $44 billion buyout proposal and a weakening digital advertising market. Surging inflation and fears of a recession have forced some advertisers to slash their budgets.

Ad sales accounted for more than 90% of Twitter’s revenue in the second quarter.

At a presentation for advertisers in May, some ad agencies and brands were already skeptical on concerns that Musk would scale back content moderation and security protection on the platform.

Several companies including General Mills Inc (GIS.N) and luxury automaker Audi of America have paused advertising on Twitter since Musk completed his purchase, while General Motors Co (GM.N) said it had temporarily halted paid advertising.

Musk last month said he wants Twitter to be “the most respected advertising platform” and not a “free-for-all hellscape”, in a bid to gain the trust of ad buyers ahead of the close of his deal.

Twitter will form a content moderation council “with widely diverse viewpoints”, Musk tweeted last Friday, adding that no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before the council convenes.