There’s an anonymous group working in the digital marketing sphere that has made its sole mission a simple one: to take down dangerous websites like Breitbart, the alt-right’s main digital mouthpiece. Interestingly, how this group — working under the moniker Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) — has decided to do that is by going after the company’s ad revenue.
Breitbart is commonly known among progressives as the home of Steve Bannon (a former chairman and CEO before becoming Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist) and Milo Yiannopoulos, the openly gay mouthpiece of the alt-right movement who has since resigned from the brand after certain statements he made concerning pederasty. The website has become notorious for its often racist, homophobic and misogynist content.
But Sleeping Giants intend to chisel away at the company’s revenue by tweeting at companies whose ads (most likely unknowingly) appear on the website. The group then teaches the companies how to blacklist Breitbart from their ad distribution. Best of all, this game plan has been working, and over 1,500 companies — as wide-ranging as Visa, Sephora, Audi, AARP and Black & Dekker — have ‘joined the movement.’
One of the people behind Sleeping Giants recently told Mother Jones:
We went on the site and the first company we saw was a student loan company based in San Francisco. It seemed a little bit weird that they’d be supporting this kind of stuff. So we took a screenshot of the ad on the front page of Breitbart and tweeted that at the company and the CEO. Within an hour, the CEO reported back that the ad was down. It was very satisfying. So that ad was down, and then an ad from another company popped up. And then another and another. That’s when it sort of dawned on us that the problem was much bigger than getting a couple companies to take their ads off the site.
Following that, it picked up pretty quickly. We tweeted it out to some people we know, and they spread the word to their communities. The first two weeks were super intense; we were like, wow, we got 500, now we got 700, now 1000 followers. And then I think there was a critical mass at maybe 1000. It was like, okay, we’re doing this all ourselves, so how about we ask other people to do it? That’s when this thing totally caught fire.
This “sleeping giant” also stressed to Mother Jones that the attitude of the Twitter account’s work matters. Most of these advertisers aren’t actually aware that their ads are showing up on websites that spew hate, and if they did, they’d never stand for that. “We’ve made that pretty clear from the beginning; we tell people it’s about informing advertisers, first and foremost, and if they have questions, answering the questions,” the SG representative says. “We’re trying to make this almost a service for companies.”
The rep says that ads on Breitbart today are mostly from Amazon and local companies that have no way of knowing where their ads appear. Sleeping Giants have also gone after Shopify, the site that manages Breitbart’s merchandise sales.
You too can become a Sleeping Giant. Follow them on Twitter and do your own part in harming Breitbart where it truly counts — its wallet.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) December 16, 2016