News came out today from the Canadian Press that the University of British Columbia and Université de Montréal have blocked Breitbart.com from advertising on their websites. UBC claimed their policy isn’t to allow ads from what CP called “extreme political sites” but a mistake caused one page to carry Breitbart. The impact to the conservative website was huge, “the cost [of the ads] was under a dollar” UBC said.
The initiative was led by Emma Pullman, a campaigner for the American billionaire-backed “grassroots” NGO SumOfUs.org. She claimed that the intent of her action was to “to show our support and register our outrage at the rise of the extreme far right”.
But there’s more to the story, right? To understand, we need to look at who benefitted and who lost.
Well, Brietbart wasn’t really hit all that hard. They lost the opportunity for $1 worth of ads posted on UBC’s website, and probably a similar amount in Montreal. It’s a minuscule amount of money that might get them a few hundred ad views at best. But it’s likely most people will ignore their ads- does anyone pay attention to online advertising anymore?
Compare this with the benefits of all the free publicity. The article has already been picked-up by the Vancouver Sun, CBC, Huffington Post. Georgia Straight, AM 730 in Vancouver, Newstalk 770 in Calgary, and I’m sure there’ll be more.
People who are naturally inclined to like Breitbart are unlikely to be turned-off by Pullman’s protest, they might even be more likely to support them. Equally, people inclined to support SumOfUs are equally unlikely to have ever liked Breitbart. So, basically, Emma Pullman’s protest was a win-win situation for both organisations.
Which brings us to what the real intention of SumOfUs’s protest might have been. It’s quite possible they were just too stupid to realise that the protest would be a net gain for Breitbart. That said, it’s infinitely more likely SumOfUs wasn’t as concerned about whether or not they were actually hurting Breitbart as they were about generating free publicity for themselves…