Exxon Hates Free Speech

from the and-probably-the-streisand-effect-too dept

The EFF alerts us to the news that oil giant Exxon hasn’t quite figured out how this whole internet thing works, and is trying to stop TV stations from running a satirical ad mocking Exxon by claiming that Exxon Hates Your Children.

It’s completely over the top, not unlike the spoof video we recently talked about Time Warner Customer Service. The people behind the ad had run a successful crowdfunding campaign to put the ad on TV in a few markets. Rather than just letting the activists who put this together get their ad on TV in a few small markets and let it go, Exxon decided to make it a big story by sending threat letters to various TV stations, arguing that the ad is “defamatory”

The letter is somewhat amusingly serious in its response to obviously ridiculous statements that no one could possibly take seriously.

“Here at Exxon we hate your children.” – Factually incorrect and cannot be substantiated.

Also could be written “Here at Exxon we don’t understand satire.” No one looks at that ad and thinks that it’s a legitimate ad supporting Exxon. No one looks at that ad and says “oh yeah, Exxon hates children, now it’s official!”

Exxon then goes on for seven whole paragraphs giving explanations for why they really don’t hate your children. Seriously. Seven paragraphs. Because they think someone out there really thought that the ad was telling the truth? And, of course, all this silly censorship campaign has created is a hell of a lot more (global and domestic) interest into what’s effectively a story that’s mostly dead on arrival for most publications. But now that it’s a story about censorship, it’s already getting more press attention and views on the campaign… making sure a lot more people see this fake ad about Exxon hating children.

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Companies: exxon

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Comments on “Exxon Hates Free Speech”

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Prashanth (profile) says:

Rebuttal without chilling

I think it’s fine that Exxon is responding with rebuttals to each point made in the satire. They may not understand satirical humor, but that’s fine. My issue is in them trying to block the video from spreading further. If they’re going to do that, isn’t that going to further perpetuate what’s being said about Exxon like in the video?

Anonymous Coward says:

Govt hates the next generation


Anonymous Coward says:

I hate to be that person, but I’m not sure this passes the Moron in a hurry test. If the video were changed to “Exxon hates your children”, not “We at Exxon” hate your children then this might actually work. I don’t think comparisons to SNL are warranted either, since when you go into SNL you expect parody or satire. By placing the We so highly, it sounds like an endorsement, even though it’s not.

out_of_the_blue says:

"It's completely over the top," so I suspect it's a plant,

designed to distract from reality and so actually reflect well on Exxon by worming in the notion that it’s not the mega-evil claimed. Propaganda is pernicious and pervasive these days, and designed by experts. — Of course, Mike and other kids can’t even entertain the notion that it IS a plant, just hop on the bandwagon and play it for the lulz, when actually they may be helping Exxon.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: "It's completely over the top," so I suspect it's a plant,

More than likely, Mike did think of such a scenario. Even if true, his point still stands – Exxon demanding a takedown of the video through DMCA/ContentID is just wrong (even if the video is actually theirs, they’re abusing the DMCA/ContentID just to try and make a point)

Problem is you, hasn’t_got_a_clue. You’ve repeatedly demonstrated your lack of intelligence, while Mike has been able to do the exact opposite.

Reality Check (profile) says:

Re: Re: "It's completely over the top," so I suspect it's a plant,

I picture him peering out of his dirty kitchen window, a pale figure not unlike Mr. Burns from the Simpsons with burning red eyes and a stringy comb-over. He peers out across his brown grass, seeing the neighbor kids playing and running around, and plots revenge for the noise they are making. Then he darts back to his computer to teach those kids on techdirt a lesson on how things work in the ‘real world’.

“They will never suspect what I’m going to say next” he chortles, “In fact, not even I can suspect what it will be, because it will be completely out_of_the_blue!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "It's completely over the top," so I suspect it's a plant,

if you would have just left off the part after the two dashes you’d have got received your second ever insightful vote from me. you just can’t help yourself can you? I guess this is all you really want isn’t it?

Trolling troll seeks validation in in rants against.

Applesauce says:

This is not satire

This does not qualify as satire. Evidence suggests that Exxon really DOES hate our children. The statement in the video that destroying the future is just profitable business is true. One look at Exxon’s last earnings statement is proof of that.

I suggest Exxon just own up to this truth. That would remove the parody defense. (But since fact is absolute defense against libel, it puts us in different territory.)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

The funniest part

For me, the funniest part of Exxon’s response is this:

the advertisement “Exxon Hates Your Children” is […] defamatory toward each of ExxonMobil’s 80,000 global employees and their families.

Even if it is defamatory, it’s certainly not defamatory toward any of Exxon’s employees, let alone their families. I find it pretty sad and hilarious that Exxon is using their employees and the families as a kind of human shield.

PopeRatzo (profile) says:

Now hold on...

I’m pretty sure that Exxon does in fact hate your children, so isn’t truth something of a defense?

Despite their recent public service ads for Common Core Curriculum, a very compelling case can be made that Exxon hates children and other living things.

In their defense however, it’s completely clear that Exxon absolutely loves, covets and adores profits, though maybe a little more than is healthy. At least for the rest of us (and our children).

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sounds like corporate Capitalism and fascism and… basically totalitarianism. Stop with the “everything I don’t like is ‘communism'” bullshit!

I’m pretty sure that Pinochet or other quality extreme right-wing South American dictators did much the same thing. Heck, even some churches have been known to do this, on threat of eternal damnation, and/or being burned alive now…

bioforge (profile) says:

Some people really do believe

I was conflicted enough on this article that I had to join and comment. I understand we all get this as satire, but the target crowd for that letter was not us. I also believe Exxon has the right to get a disclaimer be placed that it is an ad not representing them(I do agree with EFF on Exxon not having the right to remove the ad as a whole though) Lemme explain.

This letter is written for the crazy at the grocery store getting us to sign a petition for something we have already researched and know is perfectly fine. This letter is written for the person who actually believes CSI uses real, currently available technology in the show and asks the Judge why so and so wasn’t done while they are in a sitting Jury trial. This letter is for every troll who believes by posting something on the Internet you are somehow violating someones IP.

In short: There are really stupid people out there who believe that satire is true if placed in a commercial. If I were Exxon I would also be releasing commercials that show employee’s with their kids at the plant being playful and cheery.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Some people really do believe

I also believe Exxon has the right to get a disclaimer be placed that it is an ad not representing them(I do agree with EFF on Exxon not having the right to remove the ad as a whole though)

I think it should be one or the other. Forcing someone else to say something they don’t want to (though it happens) should be a clear violation of the 1st amendment. Either the video is defamatory and can be suppressed, or it isn’t and Exxon has no legal recourse.

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