“60 seconds with Max Pitter” was the headline on Facebook this past Sunday night — and it was the kind of episode the program regularly celebrates. With its mix of interviews and drama, there’s no denying that 60 Minutes makes good television — the vast majority of which was but a dream scenario for some right-wing outlets.
How does this relate to Facebook? We now know that the social media platform made a second ad in November that linked vaccines to global warming. It was banned from the network due to its content.
The decision to ban the ad, and thus to remove 60 Minutes’ depiction of the pharmaceutical industry’s agenda, was especially damaging for one particular publication that posted the ad from the source.
Conservative blogs like Breitbart and Infowars covered the story Monday afternoon, and shortly after, so did right-wing outlets for Traditional American Values and Newsmax — who bought “60 seconds with Max Pitter” ads this past Sunday.
While Facebook does have an issue-based standards policy, it is determined to be “general in nature.” In other words, it’s open for interpretation, and that’s fine if you’re in a right-wing blogosphere that really doesn’t care about nuances like historical accuracy or citation. Twitter’s media guidelines are similar, as are other networks. (Although they also do not run right-wing-themed ads on their platforms.)
But even if you do not care about historical accuracy or discussion of vaccinations’ safety — and this isn’t limited to right-wing outlets — or even if the 60 Minutes-branded ad contained its own level of selective quotation and cherry-picking — that’s still not a good sign for social media companies.
The problem now is that we don’t know what the ad said exactly, so it remains anyone’s guess as to whether the time-sensitive “60 Seconds with Max Pitter” ad can be fairly characterized as anti-Semitic. Breitbart editor Joel Pollak seemed to think so, telling its readers that the advertisement was, “Vaccination fears and climate change are self-evidently connected: it’s just a fact.”
Pollak appears to be right about the connection: mass vaccinations, a practice widely seen as a relatively recent discovery, were initiated as a way to combat diseases that were taking a toll on the human population. And while science does not say that global warming is linked to vaccines, it does say that vaccines provide important protection against diseases like measles and polio, and vaccines are made on an industrial scale, the biggest component of which are often corn-based derivatives with a growing amount of synthetic nitrogen.
While Vaccines don’t cause global warming, GMOs do
Vaccines aren’t exactly protected against criticism, even if they are a proven benefit. Just look at the case of NeNe Leakes, a singer and star of the NBC reality series “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” who claimed that there’s scientific evidence that vaccines can cause autism. (There is none.)
While the good news here is that right-wing outlets were not able to purchase the 60 Minutes ad this past Sunday, there is no sign that Facebook and other networks are taking heed of their power. Yet again, the social media platform refused to run the ad that was clearly banned by the policies.
In the coming weeks, we’ll probably hear more reports that right-wing organizations bought “60 seconds with Max Pitter” ads on Facebook this weekend. We might not hear about them for years, though.
What we’ll hear about more often, is whether or not Facebook ad bans will stop right-wingers from flooding the network with hate.