Sleeping Giants is a social media activism organization aiming to persuade companies to remove ads from certain news outlets. The campaign started in November 2016, 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. The first tweet targeted personal finance company SoFi. Most tweets on the account are messages to companies advertising on Breitbart—of these, most are not from the account itself, but are retweets of messages.
The campaign operated entirely anonymously until July 2018, when advertising industry professional Matt Rivitz confirmed he was the group's founder, after being targeted by a focused doxxing effort conducted by The Daily Caller.
The organization primarily operates from its Twitter account, and also has a Facebook account. It has regional Twitter accounts for Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
As of February 2017, 820 companies had joined the campaign and stopped advertising on Breitbart News, according to statistics provided by the organization. By May 2017, thousands of advertisers had stopped advertising with Breitbart.
The list of advertisers includes AT&T, Kellogg's, BMW, Visa, Autodesk, Lenovo, HP Inc., Vimeo, Deutsche Telekom, Lyft, Allstate, Nest, and Warby Parker. The Canadian government also stopped advertising on Breitbart News after declaring that its contents "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.
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.
The French and Italian sections of the organization have also led an effort to pressure companies such as PayPal to suspend the accounts of a far-right organization funding a mission to interfere with the rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean using the hashtag #DefundDefendEurope. This resulted in the group only accepting payment in the form of Bitcoin.
- Kerr, Dara (2017-02-03). "Tech companies' newest cause celebre? Boycott Breitbart". CNET. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Kennedy, Pagan (2017-01-07). "How to Destroy the Business Model of Breitbart and Fake News". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Kramer, Mattea (2017-05-23). "These Protesters Are Hitting Trump Where It Actually Hurts". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Coffee, Patrick (2018-07-17). "The Daily Caller Names Founder of Sleeping Giants, Which Organized Breitbart Advertiser Boycotts". Adweek. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Quittner, Jeremy (2017-02-09). "Shopify Won't Remove Breitbart's Online Shop, Claiming Free Speech". Fortune.com. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Guaglione, Sara (2017-02-03). "Various Companies, Canadian Government Pull Ads From 'Breitbart News'". MediaPost. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Perlberg, Steven (2016-12-01). "Breitbart Takes Aim at Kellogg in Ad Dispute". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Nwanevu, Osita (2016-12-14). ""Sleeping Giants" Is Borrowing Gamergate's Tactics to Attack Breitbart". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Woolf, Nicky (2016-11-30). "Breitbart declares war on Kellogg's after cereal brand pulls advertising from site". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Pierson, David (2017-04-21). "How a social media campaign helped drive Bill O'Reilly out of Fox News". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Tencer, Daniel (2017-08-17). "Rebel Media Has Lost 300 Advertisers In Past 3 Months: Group". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Jeanticou, Romain (2017-08-30). "Boulevard Voltaire, le site fondé par Robert Ménard, lâché par ses annonceurs" (in French). Retrieved 2018-11-21.
- Sleeping Giants on Twitter
- Sleeping Giants on Facebook
- The mysterious group that’s picking Breitbart apart, one tweet at a time
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