One of the many concerns during Elon Musk’s since-2022 ownership of Twitter (which is now calling itself X) has been about white nationalists on the platform, with several groups of researchers detailing a rise in hate speech under Musk’s tenure and often attributing that to known white nationalists (and Musk threatening to sue one group of those researchers, from the Center for Countering Digital Hate). And that’s a concern raised not just by individual users, but by companies advertising on the platform. The latest one of those is the NFL.
On Wednesday, Eric Hananoki of Media Matters for America reported that X “has been placing advertisements for the NFL on prominent white nationalist accounts, including accounts that have attacked the league by calling it anti-white.” On Thursday, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk relayed a NFL statement in response to an inquiry about that ad program:
"The NFL unequivocally denounces any form of hate speech and has absolutely no association with these individuals or any group that promotes racism. As soon as this was brought to our attention, we immediately expressed our concerns to X to understand and rectify the issue."
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 28, 2023
As the MMFA story noted, this came shortly after NFL’s chief media and business officer Brian Rolapp tweeted about a “great visit” with X CEO Linda Yaccarino last week:
I had a great visit with @lindayaX and the @X Client Council. They are doing great work innovating to make the platform better for @NFL fans and partners. Thanks for having me! https://t.co/GTSJKFKpnR
— Brian Rolapp (@brianrolapp) September 22, 2023
Here are some more details from that story on one particular account (of five prominent white nationalist accounts with NFL ads on their timelines, with more than 1 million followers collectively), VDare, which has more than 65,000 followers:
VDare is one of the leading white nationalist organizations in the country. It posts content warning readers about the supposed danger of Black people and non-white immigrants. Its X account includes such posts as:
“VIDEO: Black Crime Destroying American Cities.”
“The advertising industry’s obsession with casting blacks is more than affirmative action run wild. It is mental reprogramming designed to convince whites of their eventual demographic demise.”
“#CampOfTheSaints is breaking out all over America tonight. Black insurrection. Antifa riots. Post-1965 immigrants rioting. This is the new America supplanting white America.” (The Camp of the Saints is a favorite novel of white nationalists.)
VDare has also attacked the NFL as anti-white, including writing: “Turn off the NFL for good. Never kneel to anyone that supports the anti-white blood libel of Black Lives Matter”; and “Diversity = No White People: NFL Celebrates Diversity With First ALL-BLACK Officiating Crew.”
And here’s a MMFA screenshot of some of those ads and VDare posts, part of which is seen at top:
That definitely isn’t a good look for the NFL. And it’s understandable why they’ve “expressed concerns” to X. We’ll see what that leads to.