Friday, August 03, 2007

On Facebook advertisers and the BNP

Six well-known businesses have withdrawn advertising from the social networking website, Facebook, after their adverts appeared on pages devoted to the British National Party.

The groups concerned are First Direct, Vodafone, Virgin Media, the AA, Halifax and the Prudential. Already I've had an email drop into my inbox from 'Unite Against Fascism' encouraging its supporters to sign a petition to have the BNP removed from Facebook. As someone who has done sporadic campaigning against the BNP and will happily rail against the obfuscations, casuistry, and lies on which that benighted political party is founded, I quail at any call to arms that effectively seeks to proscribe its involvement in any area of society. I do not question the group's right to operate in a democratic system and expect its opponents - I am one of that number - to expose their lies and distortions in a straightforward manner. Shouting them down, I have found, wins few converts.

A BNP spokesperson told the BBC, "There's nothing wrong with the BNP. Unfortunately the media have created a bogeyman and really the fault lies with the media, who for some reason have vilified the BNP, and it has scared these people off." I almost admire the unnamed apparatchik's chutzpah. It's almost on a level with the pronouncements of the former Iraqi Information Minister, Muhammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, better known to you and I as Comical Ali. This absolute failure to engage with the prevalent accusations against it is the ground on which the BNP can be rightly ridiculed and denounced.

A spokesperson for Vodaphone said the company had taken the decision to withdraw its advertising from Facebook as:

"Our public policy principles state that we do not make political donations or support particular party political interests and therefore to avoid misunderstandings we immediately withdrew our advertising as soon as this was brought to our attention."

Frankly this is a fudge. Similar non-statements were released by the other companies involved, citing concerns about "protecting the brand". Fine. But if they are to take action to that end then they ought to state explicitly what they perceive the threat to their brand to be. In withdrawing their advertising from Facebook the groups involved are betraying a "political interest" albeit unstated. Could it be that Vodaphone, while not wishing to be associated with the party, would still like its members and supporters to buy their product?

The BNP will use this type of publicity to any advantage it can. It is already providing the party with free publicity and the companies that have taken this action have done so in the most spineless fashion. Some will rush to say their reasons for doing so should be obvious, but it is precisely this sort of arrogance and failure to properly expose the lies of the BNP that will do our cause no favour.


At 8:23 am , Blogger Hermes said...

Quite simply they're racist lowlife and, while I am a full supported of democratic free speech there is a line that gets crossed by the BNP and I'm not sure I agree that they should be allowed to exist.

At 4:45 pm , Anonymous a. nonymous said...

They have to be allowed to exist, if only to allow the freedom of speech we hold so dear. The best thing to do is try to ensure that enough people are educated as to why they should be held up as an example of what is wrong, rather than allow them to get any kind of foothold within power in this country.

Oh, and they are most definitely racist lowlife, you're very right there.

At 6:54 pm , Blogger The Bournemouth Nationalist said...

And what line would that be Hermes?


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