Why Did a Walmart Advertisement Feature Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”?

The sponsored post has since been deleted

In the wake of the mass shooting in El Paso, Walmart has decided to stop selling handgun ammunition in its stores.
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Ads targeting readers on social media with information on buying specific books are nothing new. But when one of the country’s largest retailers runs an ad for a book by one of history’s worst people, that’s generally a sign that something has gone very wrong. 

Now, Walmart has been criticized for running a promoted Facebook post advertising Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf

The ad for the book, as well as the book’s listing, have both been taken down in response to the outcry over both, but the question persists: just how did this happen? Did an advertising algorithm go horribly wrong, or is something more sinister to blame? 

A report from Business Insider adds another alarming detail: the cached page for the edition of Mein Kampf being advertised listed its price as $14.88 — a pair of numbers that have deep significance to white supremacists and neo-Nazis. 

The publisher listed on the book’s listing is one with a history of publishing fascist and white supremacist-friendly literature, which suggests that Walmart may not be the only vendor to have these listings. 

Business Insider’s report, in fact, notes a number of online retailers that still have both this edition of Hitler’s book and other titles from the same publisher available online. “The controversial sponsored ad may have propelled Walmart into the spotlight today, but it would appear that sketchy listings of ‘Mein Kampf’ are legion among online booksellers,” wrote Business Insider’s Áine Cain.

It’s enough to leave readers hoping that the outcry over this particular ad will prevent similar events in the future.

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