nWhen the annual shareholders’ meeting of Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) begins Tuesday morning in Seattle, an airplane will greet them, pulling a banner reading “Amazon Stop Funding Hate. Drop Breitbart” and protesters will be demanding that the company sever its ties with Breitbart News.
Several organizations have collected 1.2 million signatures on several petitions over the past few months and plan to deliver the petitions to the company at this morning’s meeting. Organizations involved in the signature collections and rally include Care2, MoveOn.org, The Representation Project, Sleeping Giants, SumOfUs and UltraViolet.
Breitbart News is described by the coalition of protest groups as a “right-wing news outlet” that promotes “white supremacy, bigotry, and misogyny.” 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 the protesting groups’ press release, since last November more than 2,000 companies have dropped their advertising from Breitbart News. Amazon is not among them, even though more than 560 company employees signed a letter earlier this year asking Amazon to stop advertising on the Breitbart site.
The employee group raised the issue of advertising on Breitbart News with Senior Vice-President Jeff Blackburn at an all-hands meeting in March. Here is Buzzfeed’s account of how Blackburn responded, according to an email the news site received from an employee:
Blackburn’s response … was met with “utter silence.” He suggested that Amazon’s advertising relationship with Breitbart was complicated. “It’s making those decisions for us through a third party, industry standard filter that we use,” he told the employees. “And that’s what you’re seeing. Some of the pages on the site that you mentioned are passing through those filters.”
Amazon ads appear on the Breitbart site by way of a programmatic third-party advertising exchange that displays ads to Amazon customers at the websites that those customers choose to visit. Blackburn’s response to the question implies that the only way to prevent the company’s ads from appearing at Breitbart would be if no Amazon customers visited Breitbart’s site. But 2,000 other advertisers have reportedly pulled ads from Breitbart, without pulling their all their ads from all websites. Maybe Amazon could find out how they did that.