Edmonton pulls online ads from right wing Rebel Media after social media backlash
City should not be funding 'controversial' site, councillor says.
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The City of Edmonton has pulled its online advertisements from right wing Rebel Media after several social media users flagged the city’s ads on the controversial website.
After hearing from concerned residents online, Coun. Michael Oshry raised the issue with city administration, who had the ads removed.
“At the end of the day whether it’s far right or far left, or anything that’s controversial, I think there’s an obligation for the city to not be helping to fund anything that would be construed as offensive,” Oshry said.
He said he’s found content on the site to fall under “hate mongering, or even racist”, such as one post titled “10 things I hate about Jews”, which was later retitled “10 things I hate about Israel”.
“They’ve had offensive things towards Muslims, towards Jews, towards immigrants. They are all over the map,” Oshry said.
The city joins a growing number of organizations and businesses that have removed their ads from the site this week in response to social media pressure. Most recently, Porter Airlines made headlines Wednesday by pulling its ads.
The city said they plan and purchase their ads through Google Ad Network, which allows them to target certain demographics but not specific websites, so it wasn't an intentional decision to advertise with the Rebel.
When Oshry posted the City of Edmonton would no longer be advertising on Rebel Media, several Twitter users accused him of being anti-Semitic because Rebel Media is owned by Ezra Levant, who is Jewish. Oshry pointed out he is also Jewish.
“I chose to ignore most of that … I don’t particularly enjoy engaging with people on Twitter when I know I’m not going to affect their viewpoint of the world,” he said.
In an email response to Metro, Rebel Media founder Ezra Levant said the city’s response appeared to be a political decision.
“It is highly inappropriate for Edmonton politicians (or anyone else entrusted with public money) to use taxpayers' money to reward or punish people based on politics,” he said.