Visitors to Breitbart, the controversial American “alt-right” news website, might see ads from Thompson Rivers University.
Last week, they were spotted by a user on Twitter and sent to Sleeping Giants, an organization attacking Breitbart via its advertisers over claims of racism and hate.
Breitbart has been the focus of a number of news stories since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, including the appointment of Breitbart founding chairman Steve Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist.
Some of Breitbart’s past headlines include “Political correctness protects muslim rape culture,” “Racist, pro-Nazi roots of Planned Parenthood revealed,” and “The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: Women should log off.”
Sleeping Giants says it is devoted to “stopping racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic news sites by stopping their ad dollars.”
Digital advertising is often purchased in bulk through agencies and spread across hundreds or thousands of websites, so advertisers themselves may not know which websites their ads will appear on.
Jennifer Read, director of brand and marketing at TRU, reached The Omega via email after this story was originally published.
“When we advertise online, in most instances we aren’t placing ads directly on websites. We use an automated system that displays ads to people who are most likely to be interested in TRU, though it is possible to opt-out from certain sites, and we have done this with Breitbart,” she said.
Sleeping Giants’ goal is to get advertisers to commit to specifically blocking their ads from being sold to sites it deems racist, sexist, homophobic or hateful. The organization’s Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with “success stories” of advertisers committing to block Breitbart from their advertising buys.
Screenshots of the university’s ads, spotted by Twitter user Jeff Lundeen who is listed as an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, were posted on March 8 and March 13, and tagged the Canadian branch of Sleeping Giants along with Thompson Rivers University itself.