A new report from the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) reveals that Google and Amazon are selling advertisements on websites that disseminate conspiracy theories and false information about the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers at the British organization estimate that the advertisements have generated a total of 25 million dollars in revenue for platforms that publish misinformation.
The investigation looked at 480 English-language websites that often post false information about COVID-19 and found that 95% of ads are served through Google, Amazon and OpenX services, with 75% of advertisements using the Mountain View giant's platform. .
It is estimated that the ads that arose through Google Adsense generated 19.2 million dollars in revenue. On the other hand, those presented by OpenX services totaled around 2.6 million dollars and those on Amazon 1.7 million dollars.
The report details that multiple advertisements were found from companies such as Ebay, Microsoft, Nissan, T-Mobile, LOreal, Bloomberg and even P&G or Johnson & Johnson.
Experts explain that advertising for major brands has also been found in articles confirmed to be false about cures for COVID-19, state surveillance measures and theories that point to the Chinese government or a global elite of rulers as the culprits of the virus spread .
In response to the conclusions reached by GDI, a Google spokesman said that the company believes that the investigation may have profound flaws, as it does not define what is considered to be misinformation nor completely transparent in calculating ad revenues.
Google has strict publishing policies designed to prevent monetization of dangerous or fraudulent content, stressed spokesman Bloomberg, adding that the company is taking an aggressive approach to false content about COVID-19, including blocking 5 of the websites analyzed by GDI.
Although the technological giants have joined forces to combat pandemic-related misinformation, GDI says that platforms still have a lot of work to do to stop the spread of false information and that the findings of the investigation reveal only the tip of the iceberg.