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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    I just have one question.

    Why does Exxon hate my children?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Re:

    Seriously. The stronger the denial, the more people believe it's true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Prashanth (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    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?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    Exxon: "We don't hate your children! We're just fucking terrible!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    Govt hates the next generation

    Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt, Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt, Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt, Debt,Debt,Debt,Debt!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    S. T. Stone, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

    Id like to quote anime character Super Milk-Chan at this time.

    *ahem*

    You dumbass!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

    Thou dost protest too much, Maybe Exxon really does hate my children.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:09pm

    "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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Re:

    Have you looked at your children...?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    justok (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    Exxon likes children. REALLY likes children. Children are their greatest resource. How do you think they make baby oil? Baby oil isn't just young, immature oil, it doesn't come from old fossils like you and me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Applesauce, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:41pm

    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.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:47pm

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

    Every time you call TD readers "kids" I just imagine you as Abe Simpson.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:47pm

    Exxon is clearly doing what the video says it does lol. Its probably why they are so desperate to hide the video. The fact they felt they had to write something about it tells me that they are indeed doing terrible things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    TaCktiX, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    Re:

    But the start "We at Exxon" is a deliberate parody of Exxon's legitimate ads that have been running lately. Saying that riffing off of their own ads suddenly changes the obvious satire fails the logic test.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 3:07pm

    i think you underestimate the stupidity and gullibility of the general public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 3:11pm

    Exxon hates our children and wants to ensure that they have a future with no free speech whatsoever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re:

    I haven't seen those ads, as I don't have a TV, but doesn't that make it even worse as far as moron-in-a-hurry goes? Dressing something up and making something look like the legitimate thing?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 3:36pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    There is no "moron in a hurry" test for parody. That's trademark.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    PopeRatzo (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:08pm

    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).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:17pm

    Re: Govt hates the next generation

    While I agree the goverment is heaping debt onto us and our children, it's utterly irrelevant to the article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    try telling that to a moron in a hurry ; )

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Re: Govt hates the next generation

    but exxon is some of the reason for that debt

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:51pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:51pm

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

    against trolling troll

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:54pm

    Re:

    that means they love them

    /1984

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well if the politicians would just slow down...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 5:18pm

    If only Exxon were as cool and suave as an asshole tech blogger. They'd do awesome stuff like hire mediocre Canadian rappers to write hard-hitting pieces. Nobody runs a company better than Mike. Exxon should be taking notes. I mean, what's their market cap? 400 billion? What idiots!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    ChrisH, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 6:29pm

    To play devil's advocate, if all Exxon employees were laid off, they all probably wouldn't be able to get new jobs and some of their children might ya know die.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 6:36pm

    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!"

    No, I look at that ad and think "Someone finally has the courage to tell the truth about Exxon."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    AC Unknown, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 7:49pm

    Re:

    Do you have some kind of malfunction in your brain housing group? Or are you seriously trying to mock people having a serious discussion?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 8:25pm

    o/~ People, people who are stupid. Are the funniest people, in the world. o/~

    Take it Babs!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 10:50pm

    Re:

    They don't... they hate EVERYBODY who isn't them equally!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 10:53pm

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

    Talking about plants *Looks at you*

    Note: the above also works for the vegetable meaning of 'plant' too

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Shon Gale (profile), Apr 13th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    It seems that is the new direction for all American Companies since they started doing business with China. They want to monitor and censor all employees and customers to verify they are good and following the company line. We in the USA call it Communism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 13th, 2013 @ 3:30pm

    Re:

    They want to monitor and censor all employees and customers to verify they are good and following the company line. We in the USA call it Communism.

    Speak for yourself. I don't call that communism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Apr 13th, 2013 @ 10:40pm

    Re:

    I hate to be that person, but I'm not sure this passes the
    Moron in a hurry test.


    Tough luck for the morons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    bioforge (profile), Apr 14th, 2013 @ 10:30am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    Reality Check (profile), Apr 14th, 2013 @ 10:52am

    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!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Apr 14th, 2013 @ 11:22am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Apr 15th, 2013 @ 3:32am

    Ms Streisand must be stressed with all these events.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Apr 15th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    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...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This