ArchivedMarch 15 2022, 13:03 pm

Report Exposes Ad Tech Companies and Brands Funding Anti-Ukrainian and Anti-Democratic Disinformation

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:

  • Google
  • Yan­dex
  • Criteo
  • Revcon­tent

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
  • Audi­ble
  • Lend­ingtree
  • Kayak
  • Trend­him
  • Ban­co del Alba
  • Electric­saver
  • Cheap­flights
  • XCraft

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.


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