Google is helping this fake news site make money off racist lies about the NFL protests

“Wouldn’t you love to see these ingrateful rich spoiled bastards... go to the Africa and try to make a buck there?”

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Fake news purveyor Freedom Daily is violating Google AdSense’s rules against race-based incitement of hatred by smearing black NFL players through false claims that they are singling out white players for injury and other racist attacks.

Over a one-month period, the Facebook-verified Freedom Daily has pushed over 100 articles about the recent NFL player protests in support of civil rights, many of which denigrate black players on the basis of race and falsely claim that the protests led to “racist” anti-white attacks. More significant than the verified credentials of its Facebook page, Freedom Daily’s website is monetized by Google AdSense, a service that supports advertising banners for multiple fake news sites. And in addition to Google AdSense's prohibitions against misrepresentative content, Freedom Daily’s attacks and misinformation against black players are also in violation of the service’s content policies that prohibit the “monetization of dangerous or derogatory content,” which clearly state, “Google ads may not be placed on pages containing content" that “incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race.”  

As part of its racist NFL content, Freedom Daily has called on its readers to take matters into their own hands and act against the league and its black players specifically. In a September 20 piece, Freedom Daily wrote: “More than ever, we need to turn the television off and send the clear message that our favorite passtime (sic) will not be hijacked by these racist morons.” Soon after, the site published a list of the NFL’s 2017 sponsors and began promoting a Facebook page calling for a boycott of the NFL and its sponsors. In an article criticizing Detroit Lions anthem singer Rico Lavelle for taking a knee, the site wrote: “We all know it’s ok for blacks to kill blacks or for blacks to kill whites or Hispanics. Wouldn’t you love to see these ingrateful rich spoiled bastards, including this 3rd rate singer, go to the Africa (sic) and try to make a buck there?” In an October 9 article, Freedom Daily explicitly called on its readers to boycott the NFL in order to “punish black players.”

Freedom Daily also published a series of stories claiming that Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett had begun a trend among black players to raise a fist every time one of them sacked a white player. The site labeled the raised fist as a black power salute, saying it was “a disgusting racist symbol that black supremacists have used for decades to display their supremacy over the white race.”

Freedom Daily went on to target New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., falsely writing that an end zone celebration in which Beckham pretended to pee like a dog was a “racist and vile” gesture to “display his supremacy over the white race.” Beckham had also raised his fist after scoring a touchdown during the same game, and Freedom Daily said that the gesture “where he pretended to urinate on the filed (sic) like an un-trained animal” was an escalation from his raised fist. “Simply flashing the black power salute wasn’t quite enough for [Beckham] to get his vile point across regarding his proclaimed black supremacy,” it stated.

After Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr fractured his back on October 1, Freedom Daily stepped up its race-baiting conspiracy theories, speculating that in “a disgusting act of racism,” Carr’s black teammates intentionally allowed their opponents to sack him after Carr stood for the national anthem rather than kneeling with them. Freedom Daily featured Carr’s injury in multiple articles, explicitly suggesting that his race led to his injuries.

In fact, a Media Matters survey of Freedom Daily’s content related to the NFL and the protests published between September 15 and October 15 found that 43 of 119 articles described protesting players and/or the protests as “racist” against white people. For example, 24 articles specifically stated that black players were targeting white players on the field.

Facebook has also enabled Freedom Daily to spread its racist misinformation to a wider audience by verifying the site’s main Facebook page. Overall, stories on NFL protests have garnered significant attention on Facebook for fake news purveyors. According to the social media monitoring platform Spike, of the 50 stories with the most Facebook impressions published by fake new purveyors between September 15 and October 15, 32 focused on the NFL and anthem protests. Ten of those stories were published by Freedom Daily. But these posts, which constitute a significant portion of Freedom Daily’s traffic, seem to be prohibited based on Facebook’s community standards. According to Facebook’s hate speech policy, accounts can share links that include attacks against people on the basis of race “for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech,” but as such they are expected to “clearly indicate their purpose.” Freedom Daily is also potentially violating Facebook’s terms of service, which prohibit content that is “hate speech.”

Freedom Daily’s racist misinformation extends beyond its coverage of the NFL protests. The site has posted multiple articles claiming that white people are being physically targeted as a form of reparation for slavery. In an article from February about a bill that would have established a commission to recommend potential reparations for slavery, Freedom Daily wrote: “Now we live in a country where white people are randomly targeted for the color of their skin, as black lives matter thugs take to the streets to make the entire race pay for something that happened over 200 years ago.”