According to a study, more than 500 websites do gold deals with fake news

According to a study, more than 500 websites do gold deals with fake news

According to a study

A NewsGuard survey shows that sites that publish fake news still receive important streams from unwanted advertising from many companies

(photo: Sopa Images / Getty Images) Recent and consistent data shows that disinformation on social networks itself generates more engagement than most accurate and verified news. On Facebook, for example, fake or biased news receives six times more likes, shares and interactions than reliable news, as emerges from research by New York University and the French University of Grenoble Alpes. If this were not enough, the worrying news is that with fake news you can earn, and a lot.

According to a report by NewsGuard, an organization that monitors online disinformation through a team of journalists, there are 519 sites - among the 6,730 domains monitored between Europe and the United States - to regularly spread hoaxes or unfounded news, especially about covids and vaccines. This means that 7% of the most followed news sites publish harmful content on the topic. Among these sites there are 41 also in Italy, although the majority are located in the US.

The study shows that these sites earn a lot of money with the advertising they host, generating an information short circuit for which disinformation finances more disinformation, polluting the public debate. The analysis was conducted by combining the 7,500 sites whose traffic and advertising spending are measured by Comscore, and news sites rated by NewsGuard. The two organizations estimated that 1.68% of programmatic advertising spending in the 7,500 domains in the sample went to sites that publish misinformation.

Considering the 155 billion dollars of worldwide spending on automated advertising that ends up on websites, those who publish fake news earn 2.6 billion dollars a year. "Hundreds of these millions of dollars finance the spread of false health claims, vaccine hoaxes, election misinformation, propaganda and fake news", summarizes NewsGuard.

Disinformation on the web is also financed by major advertisers too if unintentionally. Programmatic advertising, in fact, is a process that does not offer clear and complete information to companies on where exactly their advertisements appear and consequently on what type of information they are funding. Platforms just cross supply and demand.

The most funded fake news

What kind of fake news is funding advertising the most? The report shows that the 50 most common hoaxes concern the most sensitive issues at the moment: covid-19 and vaccines. It is paradoxical to discover that among the 4,000 well-known brands that have funded sites promoting disinformation on covid 19 with their ads, vaccine manufacturers, hospital networks and even the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are included.

To avoid this vicious circle that only increases the distrust of vaccination and the danger of the pandemic, NewsGuard also proposes a couple of solutions, admitting, however, that there is no "magic bullet" to make the problem go away.

According to the organization, companies should use human intelligence more and less artificial intelligence in advertising. NewsGuard is using this strategy with some brands by providing an exclusion list of untrustworthy sites, giving advertisers the ability to partner with their advertising agencies and dedicated platforms to keep their advertising away from these sites. NewsGuard also offers lists of news sites that it deems quality and reliable and that advertisers can use to reach their target audience. Fake news has a very low cost and can compete in terms of engagement and revenue with news organizations that spend significantly more to produce accurate and quality content. For this reason "every dollar spent on advertising that goes to disinformation sites - writes NewsGuard - contributes much more to the production of fake news than a dollar spent on advertising that goes to credible media".

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Fake news Internet Advertising globalData.fldTopic = "Fake news, Internet, Advertising"

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