Roku just made a bad decision regarding its growing ad business by associating its brand with toxic conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. As Digiday first reported this morning, Roku has chosen to add the live show Infowars hosted by Jones to the Roku platform as a supported channel, much to the disgust of customers now hammering the company into its social media platforms.
The company appears to be opting for the “we’re platform neutral” defense on the matter, despite the fact that most major platforms have moved away from this stance vis-à-vis Jones.
Apple, Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, Twitter, Periscope, Stitcher, Pinterest, LinkedIn and even YouPorn Infowars have been removed from their respective platforms.
The decision to allow the channel comes at a time when Jones and Infowars are making headlines again due to a recent update on the legal battle between the Sandy Hook families and the Infowars program. As reported by the New York Times, the families are suing the conspiracy theorist for spreading the false claim that the school shooting was an elaborate hoax, and that Infowars sold these stories to stoke fear and sell more products like gear kits. survival and weapon paraphernalia.
A judge has ordered Infowars to release internal documents to the families that relate to their business plan or marketing strategies, the shooting themselves, the crisis actors, or the mass shootings in general.
Roku’s decision to allow the channel is bad, not only in terms of taking a moral stance on complicated matters (if you have the mindset that companies should do something), it seems to go against Roku’s own policy prohibiting the content. that it is “illegal, incites illegal activities or violates the rights of third parties”.
This is the same general premise that saw Infowars banned elsewhere.
Due to Jones’ claims, Sandy Hook families have received death threats and been continuously harassed, even offline. Jones has also promoted other theories that led to violence, such as Pizzagate.
Roku’s position, apparently, is that the channel has done nothing wrong still On your platform, your past doesn’t matter.
Such a cynical move by @Roku here. In light of the very public lawsuits against him by Sandy Hook’s parents who have been targeted by him, why would they decide to air his show now? https://t.co/FkUrdzPLMD
– Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) January 15, 2019
Many Roku customers on social media are threatening to boycott. A search for terms including “roku”, “boycott” and others related to the news are accelerating on Twitter, the #boycottroku hashtag just coming back, too. (It was previously used by customers protesting the NRA channel.)
Due to Amazon Fire TV and Roku’s tight race and Roku’s pursuit of ad revenue through new initiatives like its Roku Channel, a boycott could have a material impact. (It seems Amazon picked the right day to launch its updated Fire TV Stick with the new Alexa remote. For $ 40, it won’t be difficult for consumers to switch streamers, if that’s what it is.)
Roku has become one of the leading manufacturers of media streaming devices in the US and worldwide, it has recently reached almost 24 million registered users. Digiday notes that it is projected to generate $ 293 million in advertising in 2018, by eMarketer, placing it just behind Hulu.
Apparently, Roku thinks it can distance itself from the content it hosts on its platform.
It is not a good look for advertisers, yet many of those who do not want their brand to appear anywhere close Infowars. And because Roku serves ads directly to your home screen, that means that advertisers’ content can actually be located directly next to the Infowars channel icon, if it’s not on the show itself. It can also make advertisers hesitant to work with Roku on other initiatives because it shows a lack of understanding of how to manage brand safety and because they fear a backlash from consumers.
Roku’s full statement is below:
Our streaming platform allows our clients to choose from thousands of entertainment, news and special interest channels, representing a wide range of topics and points of view. Customers choose and control which channels they download or watch, and parents can set a pin to prevent channels from downloading. While the vast majority of all broadcasts on our platform are for general entertainment, voices on all sides of an issue or cause are free to operate a channel. We do not heal or censor based on point of view.
We are not promoting or receiving payments to distribute InfoWars. We do not have a business relationship with InfoWars.
Although we are open to many voices, we have policies that prohibit the posting of content that is illegal, incites illegal activities, or violates the rights of third parties, among other things. If we determine that a channel violates these policies, it will be removed. To our knowledge, InfoWars does not currently violate these content policies.