GM Stops Advertising On Twitter

Elonmusk Tmd

GM pulls its advertisements “temporarily” from Twitter, TuSimple’s CEO gets ousted, the cool kind of skateboards, and the uncool kind of chips.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

The Present Is Too Weird

Gm Ad

The world we’re living in feels like an Adam Curtis doc and so it’s sometimes hard to get excited about all the strange things that are happening all the damn time.

For example, General Motors, which is rapidly trying to shift into electric vehicles, has pulled its money from Twitter because Twitter is now owned by the guy who owns Tesla and the guy who owns Tesla is nothing if not unpredictable.

Specifically, as CNN reports, GM had this to say:

“We are engaging with Twitter to understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership. As is normal course of business with a significant change in a media platform, we have temporarily paused our paid advertising,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Do I think that this is because Elon Musk owns Tesla and is therefore the competition? Probably not. Ford and GM developed a 10-speed transmission together; competition in business is real, but so is cooperation.

I try to avoid Elon Musk-related stories on The Morning Dump as much as I can because there’s a bad habit in the industry of knee-jerking (and other jerking) related to Elon Musk but it’s all sound and fury and signifies very little and just serves to keep the blog machine running.

I’m also going to avoid the politics of the whole situation because it’s unpredictable and a sideline, generally, to what we’re trying to do here. All I’ll say is that both Elon Musk and I probably spend too much time on Twitter and if I had the money I’d have been tempted to buy it as well and maybe it’s better I didn’t…

The essential truth of every social network is that the product is content moderation, and everyone hates the people who decide how content moderation works. Content moderation is what Twitter makes — it is the thing that defines the user experience. It’s what YouTube makes, it’s what Instagram makes, it’s what TikTok makes. They all try to incentivize good stuff, disincentivize bad stuff, and delete the really bad stuff. Do you know why YouTube videos are all eight to 10 minutes long? Because that’s how long a video has to be to qualify for a second ad slot in the middle. That’s content moderation, baby — YouTube wants a certain kind of video, and it created incentives to get it. That’s the business you’re in now.

That’s from this piece from Nilay Patel at The Verge who also makes the good point that if China wants to squeeze Twitter they can just squeeze Elon Musk over Tesla now. Great.

Self-Driving Startup TuSimple Probed By Feds

Tusimple

Well now that we’ve covered social media giants, cars, and politics I’m so glad we can move onto something else…

Self-driving truck startup TuSimple Holdings Inc is being investigated by the FBI, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Committee on Foreign Investment about its relationship with China-backed Hydron Inc, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Ah, damn. That’s from this Reuters story that breaks down what’s going on. I know there are a million self-driving startups and, roughly, 999,998 of them are in some sort of trouble, but the details here are important.

TuSimple is a California-based startup focused on developing self-driving trucks for freight, which is why it’s weird that they’ve been allegedly sending their tech to a Chinese-based company that does basically the same thing. That company is called Hydron and it was started by TuSimple’s co-founder. From the same story:

TuSimple’s board opened its own investigation in July, looking into whether the company incubated Hydron in China, including by funding and transferring technology to the startup without informing regulators, the TuSimple board or its shareholders, WSJ said, citing other people familiar with the matter.

Not great. It was already under investigation for its ties to China earlier this year related to its financial backers which include Sina Corp, which is owner of Weibo which is… China’s version of Twitter.

Maybe the present isn’t like an Adam Curtis documentary, maybe it’s like a Christopher Nolan movie; oppressively recursive and mostly annoying (though I kinda liked “Tenet”).

I actually started writing this last night and woke up to find out that the company’s founder was fired this morning, which is a helluva way to start Halloween.

The Chips Are Still Down For 2023

Bmw Apple Carplay

You’re probably tired of reading about chip shortages and we’re mostly tired of writing about them, but there’s been a sort of hopefulness about supplies loosening up in the next year. The fine people at Automotive News are here to throw some water on that idea with this story:

As the shortage nears its third year, it remains unclear when it will finally end. Hope that new microchip production capacity will outpace high demand across multiple sectors before the end of 2023 “is fading from reality,” said Sam Fiorani, AFS vice president of global vehicle forecasting, in an email.

Most modern systems in vehicles require a microchip and automakers tend to only need cheaper, simpler ones, which puts them in the same position as their customers who want cheaper, simpler cars. If you’ve got a limited supply of resources you’re going to make your most profitable items and not your least profitable items.

Overall, AFS (which stands for AutoForecast Solutions) estimates nearly 4.3 million cars won’t be built this year because of production capacity issues.

VinFast And CATL Are Doing A Skateboard

Vnfastcatl

The dream of many electric car fans and carmakers, for many years, has been the creation of a “skateboard chassis” that integrates everything you need (batteries, motors, suspension) into one platform that can then be used to make whatever type of car you want. Specifically, GM touted this design many moons ago.

While not as perfectly integrated as the original GM design, but seemingly more flexible, the two Ultium platforms are somewhat similar and will support a range of vehicles.

Chinese mega-supplier CATL, whom we’ve mentioned before, has just announced a deal with up-and-coming Vietnamese car company VinFast to use the CATL-developed “CIIC skateboard” chassis for future VinFast products. From the press release:

CIIC skateboard chassis integrates battery packs, electric motors, and other critical units into a single layer at the bottom of the vehicle, lowering purchasing cost and energy consumption while maximizing cabin space.

In addition to the collaboration on CTP batteries and skateboard chassis, CATL is poised to cooperate with VinFast with respect to other areas, thus promoting battery innovation and e-mobility transition.

There’s no indicator of what types of cars these will be, but it’s a moment we might look back on in 8-to-10 years as significant.

The Flush

David and I are headed to SEMA this year, is there anything you’re excited about seeing? Anything we should seek out?

Photos via: Elon Musk, GM, BMW, VinFast, TuSimple

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69 Responses

  1. I think that GM’s ad pull has multiple bases. First of course, GM is planning to go all electric and Twitter is owned by a competitor. Second it’s a form of virtue signaling to their anticipated electric car customers whom (based on their (dated?) research tend to be liberal and thus unhappy with Twitter’s assumed move away from the Left. Finally, the move away from the Left is perceived as a move towards the Republicans, and GM’s unions are big supporters of the Democratic party, as they have always been. Therefore this move will be popular with them.

    For the record I don’t have and never have had a Twitter account, so I have no dog in this fight.

      1. I don’t think it is political, I think it’s a concern about policy changes. Many of them are rumors of course, but there’s going to be a real concern about how changes are going to impact ad spends and distribution.

        Like the whole “$20 for a blue check” thing is the kind of thing that makes you go “is this going to give our ad spend less value.”

    1. You’re not wrong, but I think the main thing is that Elon is very unpredictable, often offensive, and thus possibly risky for GM to be associated with. While scandal helps the Musk brand, it will harm GM. At least that’s my gut feeling.

    2. “GM’s unions are big supporters of the Democratic party, as they have always been.”

      The leadership yes, but the UAW rank and file has been pretty split since Trump came on the scene. I also strongly doubt those members are keeping up on the intricacies of GM’s marketing budget vis a vis the ownership of Twitter.

      Personally, I think the whole thing is ridiculous. Twitter is important to journalists, which is why they like to write about it, but the actual fraction of Americans who tweet regularly is miniscule. The vast vast majority of people wouldn’t notice if Twitter disappeared tomorrow, let alone made some small changes to its moderation policies. Give me a break.

      1. But changes to moderation policies could have outsized effects on advertising effectiveness. Moderation changes don’t just mean that people’s tweets aren’t getting deleted. It means a content shift and a potential for major change in the algorithm that places ads. For an advertiser, this could mean a significant impact on the per-dollar effectiveness of the ads.
        Sure, it may not have as much impact on most people as some news articles would have you believe, but the impact noted in this article is real. GM wants the most bang for its advertising buck.
        I suspect we’ll see GM ads on the platform again after some renegotiated terms make it look appealing to the company. And I also suspect we’ll see a lot of the big advertisers take the opportunity to negotiate. It won’t really affect most of us, or even most Twitter users, but it is of interest.

        1. Yeah, I agree that it makes sense for GM marketing execs to review those policies, but if the average American sees a couple more Silverado EV ads on TV and a few less on Twitter, I think their life is pretty much unchanged.

          My point is basically a broader one, that 98% of people either don’t or shouldn’t care who owns Twitter, but since literally everything has to be a culture war topic, now we do.

  2. I just commented somewhere else that the best possible outcome is Twitter dying quickly by hemorrhaging advertisers. I don’t kid myself that this is anything other than GM looking out for its commercial interests, but it’s good, very good.

  3. I’m sure Musk will try to spin this as anti competitiveness, but the logic is pretty clear for GM. If they suspect Twitter is about to become a cesspool of hate and calls for violence, they want to pull out before getting backlash from consumers.

      1. Correct, which is why they like to have the appearance of doing the “right thing.”

        They don’t ACTUALLY give a shit about that, correct, but you can’t make money if people don’t want to buy your shit.

      2. Manufacturers are worried about public perception. While Toyota could afford to pump money into the campaigns of election-deniers, given their products’ reliability and reputation, GM is weighing their options. With several electric vehicles about to release, the Bolt fires still looming large, and whatever other issues I am forgetting, GM wants to be seen as doing the right thing.

        Though I do assume this is also largely done under the assumption that staffing and moderation cuts will affect the targeted marketing. They probably pay good money to ensure the right customers see their ads.

    1. I’ve been thinking for a while now that humanity’s already gotten the best of what Musk has to offer, he’s now in his Dearborn Independent phase and the sooner he gets to Kleenex boxes on his feet the better for the rest of us.

  4. The product is mostly a userbase. The content moderation is the tool that ensures your ads reach the right people in the right ways. GM is right to be wary about both. While I am not in the camp that thinks Musk will kill Twitter, a significant migration could very easily occur, making ad dollar considerations look very different. And a stated goal of cutting content moderation would make me suspicious of ad targeting and other business-oriented moderation features.
    I assume all the big advertisers are examining, pulling, or renegotiating advertising contracts. Too many variables are likely to shift.

  5. Use of the ” N” word along with anti-Semitic and other hate speech increased something like over 500% on Twitter within hours of Musk walking into the building on day one. He fired the entire executive staff, including those responsible for culling and monitoring said hate speech. Trumpsters are absolutely shitting their pants with glee over the prospect of spewing their drivel. So yeah. GM did the right thing by pulling out of there. I have never had a Twitter account. And now I likely never will.

    1. Yeah it sucks because I left Facebook due to the insanity and my Twitter has been pretty good. My feed is mostly car stuff, cats, and some political figures I follow. I understand freedom of speech but it’s not protected on a private platform but somehow people cry about it. But yeah, I don’t know what other options I have left. Time to fire up the old modem and connect to a BBS I guess.

        1. Yes but that doesn’t change the fact that it could have happened whether or not elon had anything to do with tesla. More than anything it’s probably a planned attack to get people to really think there’s more racism and hate on Twitter than there actually is. Kind of how the people rioting the streets weren’t BLM protestors, but that’s what the media called them.

  6. I specifically got on Twitter a year or so ago because I was interested in Trucks:
    Class 8 or 9 heavy Trucks
    Highway Thru Hell
    Heavy Rescue 401
    OEMs of Heavies: Freightliner, Mack, Volvo, Kenworth / Peterbilt (PACCAR)
    Retailers: Zips, Elizabethtown Truck Center
    Miller Inc — Maker of Large “Tow Trucks”

    Thats all I am interested in… thats all I look at. I dont comment. I dont post.

    I think… it honestly sucks that OL MUSKY is involved. Took a good thing.. and screwed it up.

  7. Re: chip shortage – I’m surprised to see this issue pop up again. Electronic musical instrument production took quite a hit since the very beginning of the chip shortage crisis, and manufacturers were unanimous in blaming the auto industry for buying up all the chip inventory they could get their hands on, forcing other industries to halt the production. But in recent months online stores have been restocking instruments from most brands, some of which had been sold out for over 2 years, and the brands themselves are releasing new instruments intended for high-volume sales, which made me think that the problems in the auto industry were under control and that gave other industries more access to chips. Does this mean product shortages will come back across the board?

  8. In an era that still has supply line slowdowns and high demand for vehicles that dealerships can’t get enough of I ask “Why are they advertising at all?”
    It’s like coke and pepsi. Is there anyone that hasn’t heard of them and will buy them when they see the ad? Hell slap a coupon on instead.

  9. I have to say that GM probably made the best decision they’ve made in a long time in regards to advertising on Twitter. Twitter had already become a cesspool of misinformation before the Musk takeover, but since Friday it’s become a free for all of bad behavior and racial slurs. The homophobic conspiracy theory Musk posted in regards to the attack on Paul Pelosi was the last straw for me. I have since deleted my Twitter account

    I never thought I’d say this, but smart move, GM, you did the right thing 🙂

  10. “the CATL-developed “CIIC skateboard” chassis”

    Did anyone else read this as “Siiiick skateboard chassis” (bro)? Also, I find it hilarious that a Chinese company that supplies transportation-related equipment has an acronym that I pronounce as “cattle”.

    Just me then? Well, I’m easily amused, I guess.

  11. “I’m also going to avoid the politics of the whole situation because it’s unpredictable and a sideline, generally, to what we’re trying to do here.”

    No, it absolutely is not a sideline. Cars and politics are intertwined, always have been, always fucking will be. Stop pulling this “stick to sporps” shit. We didn’t accept it at the lighting site and we damn well expect better here.

    The fact that fElon is gleefully promoting fake news sites, conspiracy theories, and white-supremacists is absolutely germane to the discussion. For fuck’s sake. Just ban the Muskovites if they want to fall on their sword so goddamn bad. Anyone that wants to go out of their way to defend that shit has absolutely no place in car culture, has absolutely no place in society, and should be chased away from it with all due haste. Period.

    I am not interested in and I will not tolerate people who think that racial slurs, bigotry, and hate are acceptable or that there is room for ‘compromise’ with people whose stated desire is to see those different from them dead. And nor should anybody else.
    And quite frankly, if you don’t ban everyone who comes along and says “so much for the tolerant left,” that says a hell of a lot more about you than about me.

    Oh, and instances of a single racial slur on Twitter as analyzed by people with ‘firehose’ access were up more than 1300% in the first 24 hours; instances of hate speech are up more than 2500%; and harassment and literal death threats against Twitter employees and car journalists by pro-Musk accounts are off the charts.
    It’s very, very fucking relevant.

    “TuSimple is a California-based startup focused on developing self-driving trucks for freight, which is why it’s weird that they’ve been allegedly sending their tech to a Chinese-based company that does basically the same thing.”

    Who wants to play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” except replace ‘Kevin Bacon’ with ‘Listed Entity’?
    My money’s on three degrees and the ‘founder’ fleeing prosecution.

    “Overall, AFS (which stands for AutoForecast Solutions) estimates nearly 4.3 million cars won’t be built this year because of production capacity issues.”

    Not what my crystal ball says, but mine is attuned to a few very specific parts that are commonly used. Automakers could revise designs or use less reliable alternatives though.
    You don’t want to know what my crystal ball says. Frankly, I wish I hadn’t looked at it.

    1. Oh, and I completely forgot to mention.
      What the fuck, no mention of Ross Chastain’s race yesterday?!

      Talk about Morning Dump material. I mean seriously. You have nothing, NOTHING on Chastain’s brilliant “fuck it, send it” move at Martinsville?
      Goddamn was that racing.

    2. Please knock it off.
      “We didn’t accept it at the lighting site and we damn well expect better here.”

      The reason the lighting sight is a cesspool is precisely because everything has to be political there, generally sneeringly so, and exclusively in one direction. The great thing about cars is people of all stripes, colors, and creeds can come together and do awesome things with them. That’s what this site is about, and that’s what Matt’s statement is about. Yes, stick to sports (or cars), because they can unite people in a divided world.

      “I am not interested in and I will not tolerate people who think that racial slurs, bigotry, and hate are acceptable”

      Frankly your chucking around more than your fair share of hate and bigotry whilst crapping on your political opponents. You spent the comments section on Mercedes’ article about gearhead homes shitting on the rural countryside, and people therein. On the Tesla robot thread you called someone mentioning twitter bots a Vatnik, then separately stated the proper use for the robot was eliminating Vatniks. You have some good comments on the technical side, but you are just really not a nice person online. Something something glass houses, stones.

      “Anyone that wants to go out of their way to defend that shit has absolutely no place in car culture, has absolutely no place in society, and should be chased away from it with all due haste. Period.”

      And let me guess, anyone who happens to disagree with you on anything is “defending that shit”, and you are thus justified in calling for their hounding out of existence? I refuse to believe someone capable of otherwise cogent long-form comments is this totally unaware of the irony here. You are not the grand moral arbitrator of the universe, no one is. Humans disagree all the time about everything, the key to getting along is not hating people who think differently from you. Please reflect on this.

      1. Thanks for typing up most of what I was thinking!
        When I read, “We didn’t accept it at the lighting site and we damn well expect better here.”, my first thought was, “Crap, one of them found us.”

        Rootwrym, take a breather pal. I don’t know you and by the sound of your writing about anything other than the actual car industry, I don’t want to. I kindly invite you to tone down the “Holier Than Thou” shit. It’s not doing anyone any favors. This is an inclusive site. Please no more sermons. Thanks 🙂

        As far as the ACTUAL topic of Twitter, I have an account. I don’t really post all that much and basically only use it to follow some sports writers, comedians, musicians, and car folks. I avoid the main page and almost never see any of the political stuff. Also, what I don’t see are any ads at all. I have no idea why GM pulling its ads (where ever those are located) for a hot second is that big of a deal. Maybe that will change, but for now, it’s basically a non-issue. I suspect most organic Twitter users experience the same click-through as me, so Ad-spend money seems like a bad allocation of money regardless.

        1. I specifically got on Twitter a year or so ago because I was interested in Trucks:
          Class 8 or 9 heavy Trucks
          Highway Thru Hell
          Heavy Rescue 401
          OEMs of Heavies: Freightliner, Mack, Volvo, Kenworth / Peterbilt (PACCAR)
          Retailers: Zips, Elizabethtown Truck Center
          Miller Inc — Maker of Large “Tow Trucks”

          I even love the RCMP pullin people over and doin inspections of cars… then watching the cars n trucks fail cause of numerous issues.

          This is stuff I love. Thats all I am interested in… thats all I look at. I dont comment. I dont post.

          I think… it honestly sucks that OL MUSKY is involved. Took a good thing.. and screwed it up.

          AND this is the kind of stuff… that I hope somehow SOMEONE remakes. Twitter or some such other name should exist because this stuff on Twitter.. (once ya stand on my side — no bs) isnt bad at all.

      2. Nope, the person you’re replying to is not engaging in hatred or bigotry. Being disgusted by the tens of millions of utter failures as human beings in our midst isn’t bigotry, and your “both sides” argument only works if one of the sides isn’t currently a clear and present danger to our basic freedoms as Americans. If you can’t figure that out, you are definitely part of the problem, and your hurt feelings are of zero consequence. The consequences of complacency are huge however, and this Patriot will die fighting before I ever shut up and accept an immoral and dangerous threat to my and my friends’ lives. It ain’t just “politics” any more, no matter how uncomfortable that is for you.

        1. Can I just say, it is such a breath of fresh air for someone speaking out against hatred and bigotry (and also calls out the “both sides” rhetoric) to identify themselves as a patriot? There are a lot of folks out there who call themselves “patriots” who solely want to hurt the marginalized and they absolutely need to be called out.

          Carry on, my good sir Caddy.

      3. I’m not going to waste time with your “fine people on both sides” bullshit.
        There isn’t.
        Either you’re against Nazis, or you condone them. Period. This is not ‘shades of gray’ except for people who support Nazi ideology. Know what the legal term for people who advocate for ‘compromise’ with Nazis and ‘being nice’ to Nazis like you do is?

        NAZI. You are a Nazi. Wuffles is by the legal definition, a Nazi. That’s how we dealt with trash like you in WWII, that’s how we should deal with it now. If you don’t like that, come over here, so I can say it to your face.
        Or get your ass de-Nazified. We had a war about it. Your side – the one that is a-okay with killing millions of people for being non-white, dark haired, loving differently as long as it’s a ‘little’ genocide and the ‘right’ people – lost.

        1. Can I just say that if this site is going to tolerate people (or one especially in particular) repeatedly insulting other commenters and cursing them out, then its not going to be a place I want to spend much time.

          Calling for a politically neutral POV and “sticking to cars” is not equivalent to advocating for genocide, and the fact I even need to type that sentence means we’ve gone off the rails here. Some moderation of the comments section would be greatly appreciated lest this site becomes another Jalopnik.

          1. The sad part is I 100% agree with rootwyrm on this part:

            “I am not interested in and I will not tolerate people who think that racial slurs, bigotry, and hate are acceptable or that there is room for ‘compromise’ with people whose stated desire is to see those different from them dead. And nor should anybody else.”

            However the rest just makes people who agree with the above sentiment, like me, look bad. Take a chill pill buddy.

    3. “Automakers could revise designs or use less reliable alternatives though.
      You don’t want to know what my crystal ball says. Frankly, I wish I hadn’t looked at it.”

      Did it say they’re just going to use less reliable alternatives?

      1. “Did it say they’re just going to use less reliable alternatives?”

        It did not. And to be 110% fair to auto manufacturers and electronics manufacturers and engineers like me: “less reliable” doesn’t have to mean “less reliable.” Sometimes we overbuild, using a 105C capacitor in something that never goes above 40C, because we want it to last 30 years instead of 15. (Yes, the math on capacitors can work out like that sometimes.) Sometimes it means a design that’s less fault-tolerant, which appears ‘less reliable,’ but is cheaper and easier to repair.

        And sometimes everybody just throws the cheapest Chinese stolen IP junk they can get by the millions for a song (because it’s missing half the formula) in fucking everything. Google “capacitor plague” if you don’t get that reference.

        But no, my crystal ball is saying on certain components “2023? HAHAHAHAHA, we haven’t even gotten to orders from 1H21.” I know of one component (which AFAIK manufacturers are all actively substituting, very much not a big deal one) where they’re still on 1H20 orders.

        1. I got bitten in the arse because a certain precision ref IC I was using for some scientific instrumentation went out of stock the day before I had a second batch of my PCBs assembled. I got a replacement part and spent six months trying to working out why it wasn’t performing right (missing output cap). You could buy that reference next day in 2019, now it’s on a 52 week lead time. I guess a part that eliminates an external component is popular with high-volume manufacturers. It just happened to be the one I knew…

  12. A Catch 22 situation here today? To mention Musk, Twitter, GM and aspect of advertising without it being political is impossible. Never read/joined Twitter. Sorry but life is too short for that hot mess. If I wanted to waste my time would just watch Fox News.
    And it’s not like there are not other ways or proven ways to advertise for GM.
    Wish there was something nice to be said about Elon, but shit I don’t like to lie. To anyone.
    An interesting bit of news here but certainly not a world changing event…

    1. Would you care to state what part of the morning news roundup did not meet those criteria, or what notable event was not included?

      What exactly is “an Autopian perspective” if not the literal thoughts of the Autopian employee tasked with this assignment?

          1. I suspect there are things at SEMA that might be overlooked by others, though I do think it would be hilarious to have David Tracy blocking people from approaching a booth, covered in grease and still angry about his difficult HHR. Just standing there ranting about it to anyone who draws near, sucking some into conversation and scaring others away.

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