A media and marketing agency responsible for buying and planning much of the government’s advertising has advised federal departments to suspend activity on Twitter, citing mass layoffs at the company.
Cossette, which is the government’s “go-to media agency”, issued guidelines on Friday to “immediately suspend activity and monitor the situation over the weekend” due to “unknown continuity plans for moderation”. and “increased brand safety risk,” according to an internal document seen by CBC News.
Cossette assists with “media strategy planning and development, media buying, ad distribution and traffic, ad verification, reporting and reconciliation services, to support a variety of government initiatives” . He works with many government agencies and departments.
Twitter recently laid off 50% of its staff following a takeover by Elon Musk who, as head of electric vehicle maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, became the richest man in the world .
Twitter’s head of security and integrity, Yoel Roth, tweeted on Friday that only 15% of the moderation and security team were affected and that “our core moderation capabilities remain in place.”
Musk also said that “the strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged.” Twitter did not respond to a request for comment from CBC News.
According to Cossette’s advice, the layoffs have raised concerns about the effectiveness of Twitter’s moderation and brand safety, which essentially means ensuring that advertising placed alongside content has not negative impact on the advertiser’s reputation.
Cossette also noted that the U.S. midterm elections will take place on Tuesday, which will bring “a lot of attention to the abuse platform.”
The federal government spent more than $3 million on Twitter ads through Cossette from 2020 to 2021, according to its most recent annual report.
With early voting underway in the United States, our election integrity efforts — including harmful disinformation that can suppress voting and countering state-sponsored information operations — remain a top priority.
Many large companies have suspended advertising on Twitter, including General Mills, General Motors, Pfizer and Volkswagen.
Musk 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.”
Musk said Twitter had already seen a “massive drop in revenue” after claiming layoffs were needed because Twitter was losing $4 million a day.
Public Services and Procurement Canada has not yet responded to a CBC News request for comment.