Someone tell me why big brands continue to fund fake news. Better yet, tell the brands: Their email addresses are below.
We can change that: I’ve posted contacts for a few brands with screenshots of their ads on unsavory sites — unreliable sources in both the Iffy Index and NewsGuard’s Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center. The stats, screenshots, and quotes come from Global Disinformation Network research, “Ad-funded COVID-19 Disinformation: Money, Brands, and Tech” (PDF).
GDI estimates advertisers will unwittingly provide US$25 Million to nearly 500 English-language coronavirus disinformation sites in 2020.…
Does this pharmco know they’ve paid to defame Dr. Fauci on an infamous fake-news site (WorldNetDaily: MBFC | NewsGuard | Wikipedia). Let’s tell firstname.lastname@example.org, of Merck’s corporate responsibility, that their corp. is being irresponsible, and media relations’ email@example.com that their relations need mediation. Here’s the email I sent:
Did you know your ads fund fake-news sites and COVID conspiracy theories? The Global Disinformation Network found yours among the millions of dollars of ads helping spread medical misinformation.
See the screenshot of your Merck ad on the fake-news WND site:
These ads can run without the advertiser’s knowledge. Now you know. I’m sure your company wants to be part of the solution. But, until you fix this, you’re part of the pandemic/infodemic problem.
Thanks for your attention,
It hurts more when our own media colleagues are among the culprits, like Bloomberg News sponsoring a website “known for publishing falsehoods and spreading hoaxes” (Gateway Pundit: MBFC | NewsGuard | Wikipedia). I emailed this bad news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each ad dollar paid out to these sites deprives trusted media sites covering the COVID-19 pandemic of much needed revenue.…
I’m sure email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, of L’Oreal media room, would love to hear how their ads pay to keep us in public-health hell (American Thinker: MBFC | NewsGuard | Wikipedia) .
COVID-19 disinformation has real world harms.…
It has cost countless lives in — from Iran to India to the U.S. and beyond.
And how did an ad from the august British Medical Association end up on a site that “promotes conspiracy theories and falsehoods” (Global Research: MBFC | NewsGuard | Wikipedia)? The BMA’s email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org teams would die to know they’ve helped an anti-vax article go viral.
I’ve sent mails to the above unsuspecting advertisers of propaganda. If any reply, I’ll update here.
Advertisers must close the funding “back door” that the ad supported services from Google, Amazon and others provide to COVID-19 conspiracies, hate speech and other forms of disinformation.
Now is the time for a whole-of-industry solution to a whole-of-industry problem. Are advertisers up for it?GDI “Why is ad tech paying US$25 million to COVID-19 disinfo sites?”
Update 2020-07-31: Merck got back to me to say I had the wrong Merck: There our two pharmcos with that same name, theirs, Merck & Co., Inc., in USA/Canada, and Merck KGaA headquartered in Germany, whose ad appears above, now changed to the latter’s links and emails. Emailed Merck KGaA.
Update 2020-08-04: Merck KGaA replied quickly: “Thanks a lot for reaching out. We have not been aware of our ad ending up on WND and immediately asked our partner to take this down and to exclude this website from any further ad postings. We are also working with our agency to ensure similar websites are also excluded from future ads.” Progress!