An international group called SumOfUs has gathered nearly 383,000 signatures on a petition demanding that Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) pull all its advertising from “extreme far right website” Breitbart News. President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was executive chairman of Breitbart News, a position he had held since March 2012 following the death of site founder Andrew Breitbart until taking a position as CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign in August 2016.
According to a press announcement Tuesday morning, since November more than 800 companies have already withdrawn advertising from Breitbart News. In addition to the petition at SumOfUs, some Amazon employees have been speaking out about the company’s advertising relationship with the far-right website.
News site Buzzfeed has a redacted email from one Amazon employee indicating how disturbed some of the company’s staff are about the advertising:
Without naming names, I can attest that several employees have come to me in the past month questioning this exact point and I’ve stopped them from leaving the company by pointing them to earlier trouble tickets that appeared to be removing our ads from networks that advertise on that site. I now think I may have misunderstood those tickets to actually be us reacting to our sellers requesting that their products not appear in such advertisements, rather than our own stance about our brand appearing there.
Amazon’s ad team confirmed the misunderstanding:
As per prior guidance ‘our customers are choosing to go there. It is not our place to assume why they’re going there, or impose our own standards.’ [The Amazon ad team is seeking a] longer term solution to use a 3rd party brand safety which may block [A]mazon ads from showing up on certain pages like Breitbart in the future.
Another organization, Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) encourages users to take screen shots of a company’s advertising next to some of Breitbart News’s content and tweet the screenshot with a polite note to the company pointing out the ad placement.
SumOfUs campaign strategist Emma Pullman said:
With a long-standing company policy that values diversity and inclusion, it’s shocking to see that Amazon.com is still supporting Breitbart’s brand of violence, bigotry and hate with paid advertisements. Amazon.com has chosen to speak up against Trump’s travel ban of seven predominately Muslim nations, but failed its customers and employees in their demand that the company live by its principles of acceptable advertising and pull its support from this dangerous white surpremacist website.
Amazon, as is its practice, declined comment on the Buzzfeed story.
In the time it took to write this story, more than 1,000 signatures were added to the SumOfUs petition.