“How Google’s ad business funds disinformation around the world”

ProPublica today released “the largest analysis yet of Google’s advertising practices on non-English websites,” and said its report shows that Google “directs revenue to some of the web’s most prolific purveyors of false information,” and “shows how the tech giant is making disinformation profitable…”
The company has publicly pledged to fight disinformation around the world, but a ProPublica analysis, the first ever conducted on this scale, documented how Google’s expansive automated digital ad operations placed ads from big brands on global sites that spreading false claims on issues like vaccines, COVID-19, climate change and elections… The resulting advertising revenue is potentially worth millions of dollars to the individuals and groups who run this and other untrustworthy websites – while making money for Google at the same time .

Platforms like Facebook have been heavily criticized for failing to address the disinformation being spread by people and governments on their platforms around the world. But Google hasn’t faced the same scrutiny, as its roughly $200 billion in annual ad sales provide essential funding for non-English language sites that misinform and harm the public. Google’s publicly disclosed policies prohibit the placement of ads in content that makes unreliable or harmful claims about a range of issues, including health, climate, elections and democracy. However, the investigation revealed that Google regularly places ads, including from big brands, on items that appear to violate its own policies.

ProPublica’s research found that Google’s ads are more likely to appear on misleading articles and websites written in languages ​​other than English, and that Google benefits from ads that appear alongside false stories about topics not specifically addressed in its policy , including crime and politics , and such conspiracy theories as chemtrails. A former Google executive who worked on trust and security issues acknowledged that the company is heavily focused on English language enforcement and is weaker in other languages ​​and smaller markets….
The former Google leader suggests that Google focus on English-language issues, in part because they are sensitive to poor PR and the possibility of regulatory scrutiny (and because English-speaking markets have the most impact).

Google is spending more money to monitor non-English content, a spokesperson told ProPublica, touting the company’s “extensive efforts to combat misinformation… In 2021, we’ll have ads from more than 1.7 billion publisher pages and 63,000 websites.” removed worldwide. We know that our work is not done yet and we will continue to invest in our enforcement systems to better detect unreliable claims and protect users around the world.”

But in some cases, Google ads appeared on fake online articles that were published Years The article notes that “the company’s failure to block ads on content that appears to violate its rules is a long-standing and ongoing problem… [T]Research shows that part of Google helps support fact-checkers, while its core ad business provides important revenue streams that ensure publishing untruths remains profitable.”

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