GOOD

The Simple Way You Can Fight Back Against Fake News

Hit them where it hurts — their ad revenue.

Image by Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr.

Advertising used to be straightforward. When you needed to sell a product, you found a place where potential customers spent their time and you placed an ad there. If customers read the Washington Post, you bought an ad in the Washington Post. If they watch “60 Minutes,” you bought an ad during “60 Minutes.”


But technology has changed how this process works. Ad networks like Google let you target demographic characteristics according to who you want to see your ad. They then find your audience and blast your ad all over the web to tons of different sites. Sites you may disagree with. Sites you may find immoral, even despicable. Sites that may hurt your brand for being associated with them — the opposite of the ad’s intention.

We’ve seen this occur with the explosion of fake news and political propaganda. These are articles published not to inform readers, but to sway political beliefs based on intentional falsehoods. One site, abcnews.com.co, is openly impersonating one of our nation’s premier news agencies to publish utterly fake stories, such as this one: “reporting” that President Obama ordered a special election. The scary thing is, digital ad networks drive these sites. One publisher of fake news recently told the Washington Post, “I make most of my money from AdSense — like, you wouldn’t believe how much money I make from it. Right now, I make like $10,000 a month from AdSense.”

I can promise you, few companies want their ads associated with a fake news site. But, often unknowingly, they are. Google and Facebook announced plans to ban fake news sites from their ad platforms. But other, more-established websites still publish flagrantly inflammatory articles driven by digital ad platforms. A big one is Breitbart. Breitbart’s content is widely viewed as racist, white nationalistic, sexist, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ. It runs headlines such as:

“There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women In Tech, They Just Suck At Interviews”

“Planned Parenthood’s Body Count Under Cecile Richards Is Up To Half A Holocaust”

“Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive And Crazy”

“Huma Abedin ‘Most Likely A Saudi Spy’ With ‘Deep, Inarguable Connections’ To ‘Global Terrorist Entity’”

What can we do about hateful, bigoted commentary? I was thrilled when I saw a Twitter account called Sleeping Giants. It’s an anonymous account whose goal is to “stop racist websites by stopping their ad dollars.” It simply asks people to take a screenshot of an ad on Brietbart News, tweet that screenshot to the ad’s parent company to notify them of the placement, and tag Sleeping Giants in the tweet. Then the word spreads. Sleeping Giants promotes each tweet to its thousands of followers. It also offers simple instructions how to blacklist sites from your ad campaign, so your brand won’t show up on sites like Breitbart. The cool part is that it seems to be working.

Sleeping Giants claims that more than 100 brands blacklisted Breitbart, thanks to them. These are not small names. They include Kellogg’s, The Vanguard Group, U.S. Bank, Novo Nordisk, and Warby Parker. A lot of these companies didn’t even know their brands were being displayed on Breitbart. Some were shocked to find out. Nikos Moraitakis, CEO of Workable, told The New York Times he “nearly had a heart attack” when he saw his company’s ad on Breitbart. I have personally emailed folks at Target, Crowdrise, National Geographic, BarkBox, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and others to notify them about their ads being promoted on Breitbart. Crowdrise responded immediately and implemented the code to blacklist Breitbart.

A lot of people are concerned about recent events and want to do something. But they don’t know what. Well, here’s a simple idea that works. It’s powerful. It’s easy to execute. It harnesses the power of the crowd in a simple, nonviolent way. I, for one, am excited about it.

Articles
via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet