Websites Spreading Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Are Generating Millions In The Form Of Ad Revenue From Amazon and Google

According to a latest report, Amazon and Google are selling ad space on sites that are spreading conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus pandemic. The ad platforms of tech companies including Google and Amazon could help these sites that spread coronavirus conspiracy theories generate millions of dollars this year.

On Wednesday, a UK-based research group, Global Disinformation Index published a report on sites that spread coronavirus misinformation, Bloomberg reported. The report analyzes ad revenue on 480 different sites that frequently publish conspiracy theories or misleading information related to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the report, the Google ad platform served approximately 75% of the ads shown on 480 websites that were analyzed in the report. In comparison, Amazon and OpenX accounted for nearly 10% of the ads displayed on these sites. According to Global Disinformation Index, these ads may amount to $25 million in the form of revenue based on the page views each website receive.

After Global Disinformation Index published this report, Google blocked ads from five of those websites that were analyzed by GDI. However, Google’s spokesman stated that GDI’s methodology to analyze the sites is not transparent. He pushed back on GDI’s findings questioning the $25 million revenue estimate.

The company’s spokesperson said that the report does not define what type of information should be considered as misleading information, and the revenue calculation provided in the report are not transparent or realistic. He explained that the ad revenue is not consistent for all ads across Google’s platform. The ad revenue depends on how high a marketer can bid for particular ad space.

For instance, Google ran an ad on a pseudoscience website known as The ad was from the British Medical Association and Google placed it next to the headline, ‘Compulsory Vaccination That Genetically Alters Human Body, No Longer a Human’?’

Global Disinformation Index also identified ads from brands such as Canon, L’Oreal, Bloomberg, and Wayfair placed next to coronavirus conspiracy theories. The tech giant, Google, has already committed to shutting down ad revenue on websites that seem to be violating Google’s policies.

The company also committed to shutting down ad revenue on those sites that spread coronavirus misinformation. Google also banned most ads that mention coronavirus, and the company committed $6.5 million to its fact-checking efforts. Google also prioritized authentic information is YouTube as well as search.

However, the author of the GDI’s report stated that misinformation related to the coronavirus has real-world harms, and the estimates mentioned in the report are likely to be the tip of the iceberg as GDI only analyzed English websites.

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