For online petitions have gathered more than 1 million signatures seeking to have Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) stop placing advertising on alt-right website Breitbart.com. The coalition of four website argues that Breitbart is a platform for hateful rhetoric and a key mover in the rise of the alt-right.
According to a press release, Amazon is one of Breitbart’s “most visible and prolific sponsors.” President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, a position he had held following the March 2012 death of site founder Andrew Breitbart until taking a position as CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign in August 2016.
Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, one of the four groups demanding that Amazon stop advertising at Breitbart, said:
Breitbart publishes completely fake news, including stories that blame Mexican immigrants for rape, Muslim refugees for crime in Europe, Planned Parenthood for killing ‘up to half a Holocaust,’ and transgender women for sexual assault. Hundreds of advertisers have already cut ties with Breitbart, yet Amazon is still giving money to this purveyor of racist and sexist ‘news,’ which is partly to blame for mainstreaming white supremacy.
In February, SumOfUs.org, another site gathering signatures to present to Amazon at its annual meeting later this month, announced that it had collected more than 380,000 signatures and as of last week had gathered a total of more than 550,000.
SumOfUs.org’s lead strategist, Emma Pullman said Monday:
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. While Amazon.com chose to speak up against Trump’s travel ban of seven predominantly Muslim nations, it fails to live by its principles of acceptable advertising by not pulling its support from this dangerous white supremacist website.
Also in February, news site Buzzfeed posted a redacted email from one Amazon employee indicating how disturbed some of the company’s staff were 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.
It does not appear that this has happened and Amazon has not commented on the latest petition drive. Other websites involved in gathering signatures are Care2.com and MoveOn.org.