A new study revealed that Google ads revenue is the primary source of income for many fringe conspiracy websites.
The study also revealed that Google ads revenue is responsible for funneling at least $19 million to these websites. Amazon, along with other tech companies, is expected to funnel at least $25 million to these websites this year.
The study released by Global Disinformation Index (GDI) revealed how big tech companies indirectly finance conspiracy websites. To be clear, tech giants do not support these conspiracy websites. However, ad revenues from these tech giants are what keep these conspiracy websites going.
Ad revenues and conspiracy websites
Between January and June this year, GDI gathered data from 480 English language websites that peddle virus conspiracy theories. The study reveals that most of the websites provide mundane ads for common products. Among those pointed out by GDI are cosmetics, furniture, and DLSR cameras.
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— Google Ads (@GoogleAds) June 25, 2020
The GDI data did not include online-video services and social media ads. This means that the ad revenue of these conspiracy websites could be way higher than the initial estimate.
Following the release of the GDI report, Google ads were removed from five websites pointed out by the report. However, a Google spokesperson said that GDI’s findings were somewhat inaccurate. The spokesperson added that GDI’s methodology is not clear and transparent.
In a statement, the Google spokesperson said:
“This report is flawed in that it neither defines what should be considered disinformation nor are its revenue calculations transparent or realistic.”
GDI pointed out that some Google ads are running on websites that promote pseudo-science. Google promised that it would improve its filters to remove its ads from these conspiracy websites.
Fringe conspiracy theories
Groups that delve into various conspiracy theories have flourished in various social media platforms. Most of these conspiracy groups have their start on platforms like Facebook and Reddit. Now, these groups have crept out of the social media platform and into the real world.
Among the most popular of these conspiracies are those that claim the Earth is flat. Some groups also attribute the surge of coronavirus to the proliferation of 5G technology. Experts have debunked all of these claims, but they still flourish in many fringe websites.
With Google ads removed on these fringe conspiracy websites, their revenue is virtually gutted down. Most of these websites rely heavily on ads to earn money and fund their operations.
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