A conservative activist is taking the head of AT&T at his word when he says his employees need to stop blocking conservatives from advertising platforms.
One of the companies that AT&T now owns is AppNexus, a major online advertising network that has been in the headlines in recent years for blocking ads on websites with which it did not agree. According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, AppNexus – under its previous CEO Brian O'Kelley – had a practice a practice of banning certain websites from its platform for political reasons, and publicly encouraged other ad networks to follow suit.
"O'Kelley and his AppNexus team … responded to the election of President Donald Trump by banning certain conservative voices from their platform outright," NCPPR cites as an example. "The company claimed the decision was because, in its opinion, the targeted conservative speech equaled hate speech." One of those websites blacklisted by O'Kelley was Breitbart News.
Armed with claims from conservative websites that this is still happening today, the NCPPR's Justin Danhof went to the AT&T shareholder meeting in Dallas on Friday to ask new AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson if he was aware the practice was ongoing. Stephenson is on record saying that AT&T would never regulate or ban content.
After Stephenson acknowledged being familiar with the banning of conservative content under O'Kelley, Danhof asked: "Do you know that that practice still continues under AT&T? That the websites that Brian O'Kelley had banned when he was in charge, that they're still banned? You're still going after their lifeblood. You're still going after their pocketbooks."
According to Danhof, Stephenson "expressed extreme dismay" over that fact.
"He said, No, it was my understanding that we stopped that altogether. I said, No sir, I'm in touch with the conservatives who run these websites, they're still 100-percent banned. He said, We need to stop that now."
Danhof shares with OneNewsNow his reaction to Stephenson's response. "I take him at his word and that he needs to get on the phone with his underlings and get this problem resolved immediately," he offers.
In addition, Danhof maintains that "politically motived actors" are still running these departments. "We're putting them on notice that their boss wants it to stop and everybody who believes in free speech wants it to stop as well," he concludes.