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A Job Ad on Breitbart Causes a Fuss

LAPD chief wondered if it was a spoof to 'discredit' department
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2019 8:41 AM CDT
The LAPD's Weekend Pickle: a Job Ad on Breitbart
In this Aug. 6, 2019 file photo Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore talks during a news conference at LAPD headquarters in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez,File)

"Choose your future. LAPD is hiring!" The ad itself certainly isn't offensive—but the Los Angeles Police Department indicated the placement of it was. The department launched an inquiry over the weekend after being asked about the recruitment ad's appearance on Breitbart, a right-wing website that the LAPD tweeted "creates a negative juxtaposition to our core values. ... The LAPD celebrates diversity and embraces it within our ranks, and within the city we serve." More:

  • Police Chief Michael Moore addressed the situation on Twitter on Saturday morning: "No. LAPD did NOT purchase or otherwise acquire ad space on that website. Senior leadership at LA City Personnel Department also relayed they did not authorize or pay for this ad either. Both Depts s [sic] investigating whether spoof/other effort to discredit LAPD."
  • But NBC News notes there's not much of a mystery afoot; rather, the mechanics of buying ads online, especially through Google, lead to ads being shown to certain demographics or users rather than targeting specific sites.
  • Indeed, later Saturday, the JoinLAPD account tweeted that the ad space was not specifically purchased on Breitbart; rather, "Recruitment ads were purchased through Google and ended up on sites that do not reflect the City's values through automatic placement." Those Google ads were paused pending a review of the related ad filters and settings.

  • The New York Times spoke with a computer science prof at Virginia Tech who dug into the algorithms that could have pushed the ad onto Breitbart. "It might just be that Breitbart had some keywords on their home page that matched what the LAPD has requested their ad to appear in." Google's ad settings do allow for specific sites or keywords to be blocked.
  • The ad brouhaha came about after Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Noah Shachtman spotted the ad, which features an image of a female officer, and on Friday night tweeted a screenshot with the line, "Uhhhh why is the LAPD running recruitment ads on Breitbart?!"
  • The Los Angeles Times provides this context: "Critics have repeatedly accused Breitbart of running racist and sexist content over the last decade, pointing to articles with such headlines as 'The Smartest People in the World Are All Men,' 'Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,' and 'Data: Young Muslims Are a Ticking Time Bomb in the West.'"
  • NBC News notes that the largest ethnic group within the LAPD is Latinos and juxtaposes that with Breitbart's frequent "highlight[ing of] the misdeeds and crimes of people living in the US without proper documentation."
  • A Breitbart rep told the LAT that the company is "one of the most pro-police, pro-law-enforcement news organizations in America. ... We also know we have strong readership among the rank-and-file in the LAPD."
(More LAPD stories.)

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