Federal advertising ‘blacklist’ of websites includes far-right outlets

Makes sense. Alex Marland’s points about more transparency regarding the criteria for inclusion/exclusion are valid, however:

The extreme-right outlets The Rebel, Breitbart and the Daily Stormer are among more than 3,000 websites on an internal “blacklist” to ensure the federal government’s digital advertisements do not appear on sites promoting hate, porn, gambling and other subjects deemed unacceptable.

The expansive list also includes conservative news sites like the Drudge Report, the Washington Times, Gateway Pundit and the National Review, as well as many non-political websites, such as TMZ, Esquire and Cosmopolitan.

CBC News obtained a copy of a recent version of the list, dating from June, via an Access to Information request.

There are 3,071 websites on the current blacklist, which is maintained and regularly updated for the federal government by Cossette Media, the agency hired to place Ottawa’s ads online, on radio and TV and in newspapers. The vast majority of federal ad dollars is now directed to the web.

The released version of the blacklist is non-alphabetical and uncategorized, with no information about the date a website was added nor about the reasons for its inclusion.

“It has evolved consistently since it was established [in 2012], and continues to evolve as the internet landscape and industry trends change and technology advances,” Nicolas Boucher, spokesperson for Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), said in an email.

“Categories have expanded, and sensitivities evolve over time.”

Boucher, whose department co-ordinates federal advertising, declined to respond when asked about the reason for inclusion of particular websites, including some that appear innocuous.

But sites can be blacklisted because they “have consistently underperformed in advertising campaigns,” he noted. “Sites may also be excluded if there have been comments or complaints about the content.”

Breitbart added in December

Breitbart, the U.S.-based ultra-right website to which Steve Bannon recently returned after his departure as U.S. President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, was added to the list last December after complaints.

The move followed a social media campaign by Sleeping Giants, a shadowy activist group that emerged on Facebook and Twitter last November and pressed corporations to pull their ads from Breitbart, which also runs several affiliated websites.

Sleeping Giants focused on the Canadian government after an ad for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission appeared on the site for three days, Nov. 28-30, 2017, before being pulled. Previously, ads for Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada had also appeared there.

And in May this year, Sleeping Giants launched a campaign urging corporations to pull ads from Canadian ultra-right site The Rebel.

Boucher would not say when The Rebel was added to the blacklist, or why. (The outlet received a letter of support from Environment Minister Catherine McKenna last October when it applied for media accreditationat a climate conference in Morocco, in a press-freedom controversy.)

A Jan. 4 ministerial briefing note for PSPC outlines “brand safety measures” for determining which websites are forbidden when government digital ads are purchased via networks such as the Google Display Network.

“For digital advertising that is purchased programmatically — that is, by a computer, based on a series of parameters — we developed a list of acceptable sites referred to as a whitelist,” says the document, also obtained by CBC News under Access to Information.

‘Ensuring that editorial content does not incite racial hatred, discrimination or the subversion of Canada’s democratic system of government.’– Official criteria for excluding websites from receiving federal government ads

“For maximum safety, the whitelist is used in conjunction with a blacklist filter,” the document says.

“The screening process is based on criteria that the Government of Canada has been using for traditional media. These include ensuring that editorial content does not incite racial hatred, discrimination or the subversion of Canada’s democratic system of government.”

Boucher said that among the screened-out sites are those dealing with crime, death, tragedy, military conflict, “juvenile/gross/bizarre content,” profanity, rough language, sexually suggestive content, sensational and shocking content, gambling and sensitive social issues.

The in-house blacklist is an extra layer of “brand safety” supplementing the exclusion criteria that the Google Display Network and other ad services impose on their own distribution networks for all clients.

Governments should not ‘pick favourites’

An expert on political branding warns that governments too often focus on delivering messages directly to their political bases, and that advertising can be misused as a partisan tool.

Alex Marland, political science professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland and author of Brand Command: Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control (2016). (Memorial University)

“Our governments should not be picking favourites,” said Memorial University of Newfoundland political scientist Alex Marland, author of last year’s Brand Command: Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control.

“And because of the choices of media, you can communicate information to some Canadians, and other Canadians are never contacted.”

Marland said the Liberal government needs to be clear on exactly how and why websites are put on a blacklist, based on public and transparent principles, and how those websites can get off the list.

Among other sometimes surprising inclusions on the blacklist: men’s magazine Maxim, lingerie seller La Vie en Rose, female-targeted blog Jezebel, the promotional site for erectile dysfunction drug Cialis, sports sites SB Nation and Barstool Sports, Auto Trader, India Times, Mayo Clinic.

Source: Federal advertising ‘blacklist’ of websites includes far-right outlets – Politics – CBC News

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After Pedophilia Comments, Milo Yiannopoulos Loses CPAC Invite, Simon & Schuster Book Deal : NPR

So it took this for CPAC and Simon & Shuster to act, while ignoring all his hate speech?

Breibart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos lost both a speaking gig at a prominent conservative event and a book deal in less than 24 hours.

First, Monday afternoon the American Conservative Union rescinded its invitation to the right-wing provocateur — noted for his political posts on the Internet — to speak at its annual Conservative Political Action Conference this upcoming weekend. Then, a few hours later, Simon & Schuster announced that it was canceling the publication of Yiannopoulos’ upcoming book, Dangerous.

These actions come in the wake of a social media backlash against Yiannopoulos after the conservative news outlet The Reagan Battalion tweeted videos on Sunday in which Yiannopoulos appears to condone statutory rape and sexual relationships between boys and men.

Yiannopoulos sought to clarify his comments Monday in a Facebook post citing the video clips as “deceptive editing” and blaming his own “sloppy phrasing” for any indication that he supports pedophilia. He goes on to defend himself by referencing his own relationship when he was 17 with a man who was 29. The age of consent in the U.K. is 16.

There were several references to sex between boys and men in the video.

Source: After Pedophilia Comments, Milo Yiannopoulos Loses CPAC Invite, Simon & Schuster Book Deal : The Two-Way : NPR

Ezra Levant: The Rebel’s unrepentant commander – Good profile in Maclean’s

Good profile on Breitbart North by Jason Markusoff. Sad that there is a market for this kind of behaviour:

…Media highlighted the “lock her up” chant at Rebel’s rally, in part because there was little particularly new by December 2016 about Alberta economic hurt, carbon tax opposition or anti-NDP rallies; plus, there’s high curiosity about anything vaguely Trumpish penetrating Canada.

Levant chastized them for not focusing on his rally’s content, for two straight nights on his self-titled show, where he treaded lightly on that content and instead reacted to the reaction by news reports and politicians.

“How about just once, we all tell the media-political industrial complex to f–k off?” he ended his rant.

Within days, The Rebel was selling “lock her up” T-shirts, and announced the following week’s rally in Calgary. He hadn’t initially planned it, Levant explains, until that media response.

“As a signal to Canadians that you don’t have to do what Peter Mansbridge says anymore,” he says.

The second rally drew Conservative leadership candidates tacking to the party’s right flank, like climate change skeptic Brad Trost, Kellie Leitch, as well as Chris Alexander again, who had told most outlets he was mortified by “lock her up.” He told this audience his donors and “establishment types” warned him not to return. “I’m not going to fold to a bunch of politically correct people,” he said.

This time, Calgary news reports played it largely straight, leaving little for Levant to pillory. But he found his whipping post on Twitter: a twentysomething radio reporter. “We had a controlled experiment of the media. And Haley Jarmain screwed up,” Levant says.

Jarmain is a university student who also reports for Newstalk 770 radio. After live-tweeting the Calgary rally and filing her radio story, she tweeted about the insults she’d faced that afternoon but excluded from her report: “But I got death threats. Was laughed at. Told that I’m less of a human for my job.” Levant and supporters on Twitter pushed back skeptically: why didn’t she call police about threats on her life, or the rally security? She explained later, on Twitter and her radio station, it amounted to one guy telling her “you’re dead” in the foyer, and didn’t want to risk a he-said/she-said by reporting to the authorities.

The next day on The Rebel, Levant posted a 14-minute piece skewering her as a left-wing, social justice reporter, and promised to go over security tapes with her to catch this would-be-murderer. Voice oozing with sarcasm, he announced a cash reward, and acquired HaleyJarmain.ca and HaleyJarmain.com to redirect to his video. Levant’s Twitter backers mobbed further: called her attention-craving, a faker, part of the lügenpresse. (She and her station declined to comment to Maclean’s.)

Journalists tweeted in Jarmain’s defense and called Levant’s stunt disgusting and bullying. That’s just more media tribalism, he says. But journalists aren’t the only ones who worry about this dark side of Levant. “You want to be controversial; you want to hold powerful people to account for their action,” says Kory Teneycke, a longtime friend and former Sun News president. “But on the flip side, I think you get in trouble if you target people who are smaller than yourself.”

Coren says: “I’ve seen him do and say things that are incredibly hurtful, but I don’t think he actually feels it. He doesn’t know the effect he’s having on people.”

He scraped gutter mud a week earlier, too. An Alberta labour leader criticized a claim about his Edmonton rally size, and Levant threatened to post his profile from dating site Ashley Madison.

To call Levant perennially unrepentant is to call fish damp. That young reporter was “an embedded activist,” he says, the paragon of media skullduggery. “You know what?” he says, as though addressing her. “You can own that for the rest of your life as long as I have the money to keep the domain HaleyJarmain.com. She’ll own that lie. Or, we’ll catch the killer. Either way, it’s a win.”