The Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a London-based NGO that seeks to disrupt, defund, and down-rank disinformation sites, is reporting that several ad tech companies and western brands are unwittingly funding anti-Ukrainian and anti-democratic disinformation. According to a GDI report:
March 2022 GDI has studied a selection of popular brand ads appearing next to anti-Ukrainian and anti-democratic disinformation. This deck focuses on harmful adversarial narratives that falsely claim: ● Ukrainians are Nazis / fascists ● The Russian Federation has launched a special military “peacekeeping” operation, not a war, to “de-Nazify” Ukraine ● Ukranians are committing genocide in Donbas ● Ukrainians are killing civilians / using them as human shields and blaming it on Russians ● Ukraine is a communist fabrication / should not be conferred the rights of a sovereign state ● Action taken by NATO members is invalid The adversarial narratives have been found across multiple countries and languages (English, Russian, Serbian and Spanish) […] This deck highlights ad tech’s continued monetisation of harmful disinformation between 2–10 March, 2022. ● In response to recently announced EU and U.S. sanctions some ad tech companies announced that they have suspended business in Russia and with certain Russian domains. ● Whilst welcome, these moves have not defunded the harmful anti-Ukrainian and anti-democratic disinformation GDI continues to track in a range of languages on the open web outside of Russia ● Advertisers have little control over where their adverts end up A long-term and industry-wide solution is needed to end the monetisation of harmful disinformation.
Read the full report here.
Despite the recent Google announcement that the company has paused its monetization of Russian Federation state-funded media, the GDI report shows that Google continues to fund websites spreading disinformation on Ukraine. The GDI report says other ad tech companies are also still monetizing disinformation on Ukraine, including:
According to the report, the following major western brands are unwittingly advertising on English, Russian, Serbian and Spanish-language websites that spread anti-Ukrainian and anti-democratic disinformation:
- International Rescue Committee
- Capital One
- Banco del Alba
In April 2021, we reported on another GDI report which revealed that major Western brands and ad services were inadvertently funding debunked Russian disinformation targeting the European Union.