[Text adapted from the Sleeping Giants Facebook page]


Sleeping Giants was started in the United States on the heels of the 2016 presidential election. The founders of Sleeping Giants immediately understood that the proliferation of racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic news was significant. Fake news and inflammatory “news” sources seemed to be everywhere overnight. Investigating who was responsible for paying for these articles, Sleeping Giants found out that advertisers were, in fact, plentiful. Big ones and small ones. Overall paying websites like Breitbart News – the biggest fish in the pond – millions of ad dollars. However, improbably, they had no idea that their ads were appearing on these sites because of what is called «programmatic advertising», a complex web of ad placement that targets individuals instead of specific sites. Armed with that information, Sleeping Giants began to notify advertisers of their presence on Breitbart News. As of today, over 800 companies have pulled their ads from Breitbart News, among them over 280 from Europe. Thanks to thousands of Giants who work day and night to inform them.  (If you use Google Advertising, click here to see how you can exclude your ads from running on the Breitbart News website.)

Programmatic advertising is a low-cost, low-touch way for businesses to advertise online. Companies as big as Coke and as small as the café down the street use it to reach consumers. What it lacks is control. Because it targets individuals using sites they’ve previously visited, companies often do not know on which sites their ads may appear. In the past, the companies have been able to block ads from appearing on pornographic sites or next to violent content. But what they all missed was the fact that ads could still appear next to highly charged, inflammatory and often fake news. Sites could simply write whatever they pleased and get paid just by virtue of having people visit them. As fake news became a real news story, it became clear that programmatic advertising has given rise to many of these sites and filled their owners’ pockets with money.

Anyone and everyone can help. It’s simple. Just follow the instructions on the pinned tweet on our Twitter page (@slpng_giants). Visit Breitbart News, take a screenshot of an ad next to some of their content, then tweet the shot with a polite note to the company’s twitter account and tag us (@slpng_giants – or, in case it’s a european company: @slpng_giants_eu) so we can keep track of the progress. If the company responds, ask for confirmation that the ads are down. Once you get the confirmation, retweet it to us indicating «CONFIRMED» and we will announce it to the Sleeping Giants Community in the US and Europe.

No problem. You can still be a Giant. We have a Facebook page that is also a great resource. You can get in touch with companies there as well. You can also email or call companies directly and let them know that they are advertising on Breitbart and that you’re wondering if they would be willing to take down their ads. If they confirm, try to get it into an e-mail or even a text and post it to our Facebook account.

We are not advocating for any boycotts. Our main goal is to inform companies that they are appearing on Breitbart News, likely without their knowledge. It’s the companies’ free choice where to advertise, but we’re convinced they should be aware of their placements. To boycott a company that is still on the page would be counterproductive because they probably have no idea that their ads are showing up on there.

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