Long-time ad executive Linda Yaccarino officially began her new role as Twitter CEO on Monday, according to a tweet she shared that read, “It happened––first day in the books! Stay tuned…”
When Twitter owner Elon Musk first announced the hiring of a new CEO last month, Yaccarino abruptly resigned from NBCUniversal -- where she had worked for 12 years as chairman of the company’s advertising and partnerships group.
Yaccarino then officially joined Twitter on May 12, three weeks earlier than Musk originally projected, and just days before NBCUniversal’s upfront presentation––its much-anticipated advertiser event.
All in all, it seemed like a rushed mess. And worse, Yaccarino’s first day on the job included a live audio event on Twitter Spaces alongside Musk and Robert F. Kennedy Jr, the 2024 presidential candidate who is anti-vaccine and pro-Second Amendment. The candidate blamed widespread gun violence and school shootings on the use of antidepressants, despite the lack of any factual data to support that statement.
As Musk continues to provide a platform––his platform––for political candidates who align with his own personal views, Yaccarino seems to be a willing accomplice.
For reference, on May 24, Musk hosted Ron DeSantis on Twitter––you know, that Florida guy who claims to fight for the working class and “truth” but continues to support unregulated gun ownership, nix actual American history lessons, and starve programs meant to better ordinary citizens’ lives for low taxes on the rich and corporations. Due to hasty planning, the conversation was plagued by technical issues.
Still, Yaccarino tweeted this: “Tonight’s reflection––we just heard a rare and unscripted conversation, on a range of important topics, with a Presidential candidate––all launched on Twitter. That’s historical. Let’s do more. Freedom of speech is priceless.”
It hurts to see a highly celebrated professional such as Yaccarino––who ran a 2,000-plus global team that connected brands to hundreds of millions of viewers and generated more than $100 billion in ad sales, transformed a $70 billion video ecosystem, fostered a campaign to educate millions of Americans on the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine as Ad Council Chair and helped launch a variety of initiatives that helped promote equity in the advertising industry––ignore such blatant hypocrisy while promoting a complete misreading of “free speech” and the true power of democracy.
While Yaccarino’s decision to join Musk is bewildering on a moral and political level, one thing is clear: Musk desperately needs someone like Yaccarino to bring in more advertising dollars.
However, in a time when brand advertisers are demanding more transparency from their media partners than ever before, Twitter––with its continual cuts to whatever content moderation team still exists and the rise of harmful and hate-fueled content––continues to dissuade advertisers from joining or continuing with the platform.
Sure, there’s not much Yaccarino has to do to improve a failing company like Twitter, which some may view as a “success,” but such a willingness to align herself with Musk and his destructive “free speech” mission may still ruin Yaccarino’s reputation and long, respected career.