Business & Tech

Dana-Farber puts online advertising on hold after ad runs on Breitbart

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is reviewing its advertising strategy after ads for the prestigious medical center showed up on Breitbart.com, the conservative news site that has sparked controversy for giving voice to white nationalist views.

Dana-Farber and Partners HealthCare, the parent of Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals, are among the many companies whose ads have appeared on Breitbart. Businesses don’t necessarily choose to advertise on Breitbart; many have deals with Internet ad networks that use algorithms to display their ads on a variety of websites.

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Breitbart gained attention in recent weeks after President-elect Donald Trump chose the site’s former executive chairman, Stephen Bannon, to serve as his chief strategist and senior adviser. Critics say its articles promote racist and sexist ideas.

The big cereal maker Kellogg Co. and other companies have promised to pull their ads from the website. Breitbart, in response to Kellogg’s decision, launched a boycott of the company’s products.

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Dana-Farber spokesman Steven Singer said he was not aware the cancer center’s ads had appeared on Breitbart. “It was not something we did proactively,” he said.

After being alerted to the ads, Singer said, Dana-Farber put a hold on its online advertising. “We always seek to avoid controversial sites, but this is clearly an imperfect process, and we have paused our digital advertising while we do a careful review.”

Partners spokesman Rich Copp said Breitbart is “certainly not a site that we would target, and we’ve taken steps to ensure that our advertising does not appear there.”

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Partners’ hospitals and Dana-Farber are among the best-known hospitals in Boston and often attract patients from other parts of the country.

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey
can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.
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