The NFL likes to think of itself as apolitical, but as most fans know, that’s only sort of true. Check out which political campaigns NFL owners donate to or the military industrial complex fever dream that still kicks off multiple games every Sunday.
The NFL has made some superficial attempts at bridging the political divide by putting the phrase “End Racism” in NFL end zones and including “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the “Black National Anthem,” before games. Still, the NFL has come under heavy scrutiny over the last few years for, among other things, their handling of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the National Anthem and the lack of Black head coaches in the league. It’s not like the league isn’t aware of how their racial politics are viewed, which is probably why Roger Goodell repeatedly insists that the NFL “does not tolerate racism of any kind.”
Those words fall somewhat flat, however, in light of a new report from Media Matters for America, which discovered that ads for the NFL have been appearing on white nationalist X (formerly Twitter) accounts with some regularity, including one account that has called the NFL “anti-white” and white nationalist Stew Peters’ account. The league ad appeared “next to (Peters’) conspiracy theory that Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin actually died and is being portrayed by an actor. Ads for the NFL have also appeared on the accounts of prominent white nationalists Baked Alaska, VDare, Richard Spencer, and Andrew Torba,
Media Matters Senior Investigative Reporter Eric Hananoki says he’s had his eye on NFL ads on Twitter for some time.
“Media Matters has been closely monitoring the trajectory of X under Elon Musk’s leadership, which has become a cesspool of hate and misinformation as he has reinstated previously banned accounts of white nationalists and misogynists,” Hananoki told Deadspin. “And for the past few months, we have been reporting on how X is placing ads for major brands – including the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons – on far-right extremist accounts.
“This is yet another example of just how unsafe brands are if they choose to advertise on X,” Hananoki said.
How does this even happen? It’s unclear if the NFL had a hand in placing these ads themselves or contracted with another party to do so on their behalf. And according to Hananoki, “X claims that advertisers have some control over where their ads appear, who is (or who isn’t) served their ads, and also claims to have brand safety policies and practices. But major brands’ ads still appear next to harmful content.”
Hananoki also told Deadspin that X “claims to have automated blocklists that “protect advertisers from appearing adjacent to unsafe keywords in the Home Timeline.” But X itself admits that its controls aren’t always 100 percent effective.
Media Matters said they had not heard from the NFL on this issue, so we reached out and asked the league if they were aware of where their ads were showing up on X. The NFL provided Deadspin with the following statement:
“The NFL unequivocally denounces any form of hate speech and has absolutely no association with these individuals or any group that promotes racism. As soon as this was brought to our attention, we immediately expressed our concerns to X to understand and rectify the issue.”
As of yesterday, though, Media Matters identified an NFL ad on Peters’ account, appearing just three posts below a video of Peters calling for the execution of “woke” Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs’ star Travis Kelce, as a result of Kelce’s endorsement of the Pzifer COVID vaccine.
Complicating matters for the NFL is the fact that just last week, Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s chief media and business officer, praised X and CEO Lina Yaccarino, for “doing great work” and “innovating to make the platform better for NFL fans and partners.” Rolapp’s praise came at a time when NFL ads were actively appearing on white nationalist accounts. How did he not notice that?
In a perfect world, the NFL would be pressuring X to remove white nationalist accounts from their platform, but as anyone who uses X (other than Brian Rolapp, apparently) knows, X has devolved into a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and anti-science hellscape since Musk took over. Back in June, GLAAD declared X to be the worst platform when it comes to LGBTQ+ safety. And just this week, X trashed the feature that allowed users to report misinformation. Ideally, the league wouldn’t be placing ads on X at all, but if anyone has the cash and the caché to make sure that their ads aren’t appearing on accounts that are actively harmful to the marginalized, it’s the NFL.
“Protect the shield” indeed.
Worse, the appearance of NFL ads on X accounts that denigrate everyone but straight, white, cisgender men is antithetical to what the league says it’s trying to be. Goodell runs a league that is composed of 56 percent Black men. Someone dropped the ball here in a really big way. And once again, when it comes to race and equality, the NFL has a lot of explaining to do.
Original source here
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