Matt Rivitz is the founder of Sleeping Giants, a crowd-sourced anti-bigotry and corporate responsibility campaign started on Twitter as a reaction to the intense racism, sexism and xenophobia found across the Internet in the end of 2016. The campaign has exploded worldwide, with 325,000 followers across Twitter and Facebook and Sleeping Giants chapters in 11 other countries and territories including the EU, France, Canada and Australia, each fighting against bigoted media sources in their parts of the world.
Matt is in the unique position to have surfaced the problem of brand safety in the digital age in 2016. After discovering that incendiary rhetoric online was being funded by advertising dollars from unsuspecting corporations because of opaque advertising systems, Matt took his 25 years of advertising experience and started Sleeping Giants to alert advertisers about their presence on Breitbart News. Two years later, over 4,200 advertisers have opted out of advertising on the website.
Over the last two years, the campaign’s purpose has expanded well beyond ad tech into brand safety in all media, asking advertisers to align their corporate values with their ad placements. This has led to dozens of corporations severing ties with TV shows like Tucker Carlson Tonight that have long records of pushing divisive, racist and sexist views. It has also been successful in getting social media platforms and payment processors to finally enforce their Terms of Service on accounts like Alex Jones’ Infowars, which had numerous violations involving harassment, conspiracy theories and white supremacy as well as getting institutional investors to sever ties with Renaissance Technologies, whose co-CEO had been funding white supremacists.
Anonymous until July 17, 2018, Matt’s identity was exposed without his permission by the website The Daily Caller, resulting in a coordinated harassment campaign by white supremacists and neo-Nazis on social media and death threats against his wife and children. Nonetheless, Matt has continued to grow Sleeping Giants beyond Twitter and Facebook in order to shed light on the continuing rise of hate online, the pitfalls of our ever-changing, complex media landscape and the many ways that brands can avoid funding degrading, divisive and dangerous content.
Matt has appeared on CNN, has been interviewed by Katie Couric for Yahoo! News and has been featured on Pod Save America and Kara Swisher’s Recode podcast. His work with Sleeping Giants has appeared on the front page of The New York Times’ Business Section, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Vox, GQ, Rolling Stone, Fast Company, Mother Jones, The Independent, WIRED, The Daily Beast and Buzzfeed, among others, and he has written about social media accountability for The Guardian. Matt was named one of 23 industry leaders fixing digital advertising by Business Insider and a Digiday Changemaker in 2017. He has spoken at Haas School of Business at the University of California and South By Southwest and will be speaking at the 3% Conference in the spring of 2019 and Cannes Lions in the summer of 2019.