Sleeping Giants

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Matt Rivitz in 2022
Nandini Jammi in 2020

Sleeping Giants is a social media activism organization aiming to pressure companies into removing advertisements from conservative news outlets.[1] The campaign started in November 2016,[2] shortly after Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 United States presidential election, with the launch of a Twitter account aiming to boycott Breitbart News.[3][4] The first tweet targeted personal finance company SoFi.[2]

The campaign operated anonymously until The Daily Caller identified freelance copywriter Matt Rivitz as the founder, a story confirmed by Rivitz.[5] Shortly afterward, a New York Times profile of Rivitz and freelance copywriter and marketing consultant Nandini Jammi said the two ran the campaign's Twitter account "along with other still anonymous contributors".[6] Other reports identified Jammi as "co-founder".[7][8] Jammi later left Sleeping Giants, saying that Rivitz "gaslighted me out of the movement we built together".[9][10]

Campaign against Breitbart News[edit]

The organization primarily operates from its Twitter account, and also has a Facebook account. It has regional Twitter accounts for Australia,[11] Belgium, Brazil,[12][13] Canada,[14] Finland, France,[15] Germany,[16] Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

As of February 2017, 820 companies had joined the campaign and stopped advertising on Breitbart News, according to statistics provided by the organization.[2] By May 2017, thousands of advertisers had stopped advertising with Breitbart.[4] The list of advertisers includes Allstate, AT&T, Autodesk, BMW, Deutsche Telekom, HP Inc., Kellogg's, Lenovo, Lyft, Visa, Vimeo, Nest, and Warby Parker.[17][2][18][19]

The Canadian government also stopped advertising on Breitbart News after declaring that its content "did not align with the Government's Code of Value and Ethics". Sleeping Giants' strategy combines traditional approaches to pressure advertisers with direct online activism, aiming to recruit and mobilize a large population of social media users. According to Slate, Sleeping Giants' strategy is similar to the one adopted in 2014 by the Gamergate movement against Gawker Media.[20]

Breitbart News responded with a campaign to boycott Kellogg's products.[19][21]

Other campaigns[edit]

Sleeping Giants was involved in the campaign pressuring advertisers to drop The O'Reilly Factor after the discovery of five sexual harassment settlements by host Bill O'Reilly and Fox News, which resulted in the show's cancellation.[22]

The group also participated in organizing the boycott of The Ingraham Angle and pressured social networks to drop Alex Jones.[23]

Since May 2017, the Canadian section has used the same methods to persuade advertisers to remove ads from the Canadian conservative news outlet The Rebel Media.[24]

The French section also campaigns in a similar manner with regard to the French far-right website Boulevard Voltaire.[25]

In Brazil, Sleeping Giants Brazil gained traction[26] against Jornal da Cidade On-line, Conexão Política and Brasil Sem Medo, far-right and fake news outlets which support Jair Bolsonaro.[13][27] They also tried to defund Olavo de Carvalho's YouTube channel and online courses. Consequently PayPal decided to remove their services from Carvalho's online seminars[28] upon violations of their terms and conditions of use due to his inflammatory rhetoric, polemic remarks and hate speech.[29][30][31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Farhi, Paul (September 22, 2017). "The mysterious group that's picking Breitbart apart, one tweet at a time". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Kerr, Dara (February 3, 2017). "Tech companies' newest cause celebre? Boycott Breitbart". CNET. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  3. ^ Kennedy, Pagan (January 7, 2017). "How to Destroy the Business Model of Breitbart and Fake News". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Kramer, Mattea (May 23, 2017). "These Protesters Are Hitting Trump Where It Actually Hurts". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  5. ^ Coffee, Patrick (July 17, 2018). "The Daily Caller Names Founder of Sleeping Giants, Which Organized Breitbart Advertiser Boycotts". Adweek. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  6. ^ Sapna Maheshwari. "Revealed: The People Behind an Anti-Breitbart Twitter Account". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  7. ^ Swant, Marty. "As Civil Rights Groups Ask Marketers To Boycott Facebook, Outdoor Brands Pause Spending". Forbes. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  8. ^ Crowley, James (November 5, 2019). "PayPal to cut off donations to right-wing YouTuber Stefan Molyneux following social media divestment campaign". Newsweek. Retrieved January 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Jammi, Nandini (July 9, 2020). "I'm leaving Sleeping Giants, but not because I want to". Medium. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  10. ^ Nash, Charlie (July 10, 2020). "Sleeping Giants Apologizes to Woman of Color Co-Founder 'Gaslighted' Out of Org". Mediaite. Retrieved November 24, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ Purtill, James (November 28, 2018). "Sleeping Giants Oz: How an anonymous Twitter account took on Sky News". Hack on Triple J (Australian Broadcast Corporation). Retrieved November 28, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Fleck, Giovana (November 11, 2020). "Global Voices - Four ways Brazilians turned to social media to question racism and corruption". Global Voices. Retrieved November 28, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ a b Tsavkko, Raphael; Garcia (June 19, 2020). "Anonymous Twitter accounts in Brazil are pressuring advertisers to drop conservative media campaigns". Business Insider. Retrieved September 17, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Kerr, Jaren (May 27, 2017). "There's A Campaign Urging Advertisers To Boycott Rebel Media". Retrieved November 28, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^, Team (December 2, 2019). ""Pourvoyeur de haine" : après CNews, Sleeping Giants s'attaque à "Valeurs actuelles"". L'Express (in French). Retrieved November 28, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ Wirminghaus, Niklas (February 27, 2017). "Keine Werbung auf Breitbart – Initiative "Sleeping Giants" kommt nach Deutschland". Gründerszene Magazin (in German). Retrieved November 28, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ Quittner, Jeremy (February 9, 2017). "Shopify Won't Remove Breitbart's Online Shop, Claiming Free Speech". Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  18. ^ Guaglione, Sara (February 3, 2017). "Various Companies, Canadian Government Pull Ads From 'Breitbart News'". MediaPost. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Perlberg, Steven (December 1, 2016). "Breitbart Takes Aim at Kellogg in Ad Dispute". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  20. ^ Nwanevu, Osita (December 14, 2016). ""Sleeping Giants" Is Borrowing Gamergate's Tactics to Attack Breitbart". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  21. ^ Woolf, Nicky (November 30, 2016). "Breitbart declares war on Kellogg's after cereal brand pulls advertising from site". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  22. ^ Pierson, David (April 21, 2017). "How a social media campaign helped drive Bill O'Reilly out of Fox News". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  23. ^ Gupta, Anika (2020). How to Handle a Crowd. Tiller Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-9821-3231-6.
  24. ^ Tencer, Daniel (August 17, 2017). "Rebel Media Has Lost 300 Advertisers In Past 3 Months: Group". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  25. ^ Jeanticou, Romain (August 30, 2017). "Boulevard Voltaire, le site fondé par Robert Ménard, lâché par ses annonceurs" (in French). Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  26. ^ Mann, Richard (May 24, 2020). "Rapidly Growing, Sleeping Giants Movement Annoys Bolsonarist Shock Troops". The Rio Times. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  27. ^ Biller, David (December 13, 2020). "Swift backlash for Brazil students targeting misinformation". AP News. Associated Press. Retrieved December 14, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ Fogel, Benjamin (August 7, 2020). "PayPal blocks Olavo de Carvalho in latest blow for far-right ideologue". The Brazilian Report. Retrieved September 17, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ McCoy, Terrence. "He's the Rush Limbaugh of Brazil. He has Bolsonaro's ear. And he lives in rural Virginia". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  30. ^ Teitelbaum, Benjamin (October 8, 2020). "The rise of the traditionalists: how a mystical doctrine is reshaping the right". New Statesman. Retrieved October 8, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ John Fowler, Mayhill. "Sleeping Giants Movement Undermines Jair Bolsonaro's Guru's Disinformation Web". Off The Bus. Archived from the original on November 7, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gupta, Anika (2020). "Chapter 4 - Bringing the Revolution: Sleeping Giants and the Battle over Online Advertising". How to Handle a Crowd. Tiller Press. pp. 86–105. ISBN 978-1-9821-3231-6.

External links[edit]