At a time when NFL broadcast partners like Disney and NBCUniversal have pressed the pause button on their advertising partnerships with X, the NFL is standing firm with Elon Musk’s social-media monolith.
NFL Chief Media and Business Officer Brian Rolapp said that the league won’t stop advertising on the platform formerly known as Twitter.
“I think X is in a very difficult business because of the content moderation that they have to deal with,” Rolapp said in an appearance on CNBC. “We continue to work with them because our fans are clearly there.”
Last week, Musk agreed with a message that accused “Jewish communities” of “hatred against whites.” He has denied being antisemitic.
He also has sued MediaMatters.org over a recent report claiming that Nazi content rang alongside ads for major corporations.
The current state of X creates a dilemma for advertisers and for users. Under the guise of free speech, X welcomes viewpoints that many would regard as harmful.
The First Amendment has limits. Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is free speech; it’s also a crime. Some speech that doesn’t cross the line to criminal liability is nevertheless harmful and/or undesirable.
Some would say X users should be allowed to say whatever they want, no matter how objectively problematic the words might be. Others would argue that there should be reasonable limits on what can be posted.
The separate question is whether advertisers will endorse a platform that takes an all’s-fair approach to hate speech, in any form.
For the NFL, there are two very different questions. One, do we have multiple platforms on it? Two, do we support it financially (and in turn indirectly endorse the approach) by purchasing ads there?
For now, the NFL’s answer to both questions continues to be a resounding, “Hell yes.”