Yahoo News is defending an ad campaign launched earlier this month as part of its efforts to promote the relaunch of the Yahoo News app. While some have argued that the ad, which features a border wall and the phrase "immigrants endanger us," promotes an anti-immigration message, Yahoo News said its border wall ad is meant to reflect the current polarizing nature of debate on hot-button issues like immigration.
In an ad run as part of its "See All Sides" campaign, Yahoo News depicts two intersecting border walls, both of which are topped with barbed wire. The wall on the left is blue and emblazoned with the phrase "immigrants enrich us." The wall on the right is red and carries the message that "immigrants endanger us." Where the two walls collide has been shaded purple, a color long used in Yahoo's branding.
The ad has sparked controversy, drawing questions and accusations from those who claim there's no middle ground in debate over whether or not immigrants pose a threat to the communities they migrate to. But while critics condemn the controversial ad as a false compromise which features an anti-immigration message, Yahoo News has claimed the ad is meant to illustrate the company's commitment to reporting all sides.
"These ads are meant to reflect the current state of our country, and the polarizing conversations taking place on a number of issues," a Yahoo News spokesperson tells Bustle in an emailed statement. "Yahoo News has a long history as a non-partisan news organization, with a mission to present divergent perspectives."
Indeed, the ad featuring a border wall and messages about immigration are just one of the ads in Yahoo News' "See all Sides" campaign. Other ads in the series examine topics like health care, internet privacy, and climate change. In one ad, the phrase "healthcare is a right" in blue is juxtaposed with the phrase "healthcare is a privilege" in red. In another, a blue factory emblazoned with the phrase "save the environment" bleeds into a red factory emblazoned with the phrase "stimulate the economy."
According to Yahoo News, the ad campaign is meant to be viewed in its totality, with users seeing the different ads in rotation. But the company has noted that users will see different ads depending on the platform they're using and what time they're active.
But many social media users have criticized Yahoo News' immigration-focused ad since its debut. "Hey @Yahoo, hating immigrants and spreading lies that they are dangerous is not on a level playing field with thinking immigrants are humans," one user on Twitter wrote. "One is racist garbage, the other is not."
Others argued the ad wrongly attempted to claim that the truth is always found as a compromise between two opposing sides, a fallacy known as false equivalence or false compromise. "I'm pretty sure that the approach espoused by this Yahoo News ad is the exact problem with many news organizations today," one Twitter user wrote. "There aren't two legitimate sides to every story. There's the truth. They should try that sometime."
Yahoo, however, has implied that the ad campaign is designed to illustrate the company's commitment to non-partisan news. Indeed, the company described the upgraded app the ads promote as having "a number of new features designed to deepen trust among audiences and help them see all sides of the story."
Those features reportedly include what Yahoo calls "The 360," a feature that enables users to scan news stories on the same topic from multiple outlets all in one place so as to "get the complete picture." The upgraded app also includes a "Fact check" feature, where "statements and claims made within an article are verified by Yahoo News for accuracy," according to the company.