Business & Real Estate

Brands yank ads on ‘alt-right’ website Breitbart, others discover they can’t

Twitter users are calling out companies whose ads appear on Breitbart.
Twitter users are calling out companies whose ads appear on Breitbart. Twitter

After receiving backlash from consumers, some companies are requesting their advertisements be pulled from ‘alt-right’ website Breitbart.

The news site is home to articles that promote racist, nationalist and anti-Semitic ideology. Digiday reports that companies like Nest, Allstate, Earthlink, SoFi and Modcloth are “blacklisting” the website so their products do not appear in association with the content on the site.

Because of the way internet advertising works, many companies were not aware their ads were appearing on the nationalist site. Companies often don’t purchase ads for a specific site but rather a specific type of site. So a company could purchase an ad on a “news website,” without knowing its content is appearing on Breitbart.

Warby Parker is among the brands that wasn’t aware its ads were on the site, and a spokeswoman told Digiday it was important the company’s ads were appearing on websites that shared its values.

“Warby Parker does not buy advertising from Breitbart News Network directly. If one of our ads appears on a Breitbart site, it’s due to a sale through third-party ad networks or ad exchanges,” the spokeswoman said. “We are looking into actively blocking our ads from appearing on Breitbart News Network.”

The site’s former editor Stephen Bannon was chairman of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign and has been named a chief White House strategist. That appointment was decried by people who say it is dangerous to put a white supremacist in a role with so much power.

Bannon does not deny Breitbart promotes racist and homophobic views.

“Look, are there some people that are white nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe,” Bannon told Mother Jones in July. “Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. Right? Maybe some people are attracted to the alt-right that are homophobes, right? But that’s just like, there are certain elements of the progressive left and the hard left that attract certain elements.”

Online ads also appear on websites using retargeting technology. So if a user is searching for a new coffee maker, an ad for the model they were looking at can appear on subsequent websites they visit. The coffee maker company has no control over where those ads may run because they are dictated by the user’s habits.

Allstate responded to a user on Twitter complaining its ads were on Breitbart asking for the URL where the spot was appearing.

Another user called out Progressive, Macys and Amazon, providing screenshots of ads on the site.

Several Twitter accounts are working to gather the names of companies whose ads are running on Breitbart and a list is being compiled on Reddit.