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Amazon and several other brands have been advertising on COVID-19 conspiracy sites

Most of the time, the companies don’t even know that they are supporting these sites.

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Image: KnowTechie

It has emerged that several major brands, including Amazon and Nike, have been advertising on various websites that promote misinformation. New research shows how these companies are unknowingly providing financial support for these websites.

According to a report from The Guardian, a recent analysis from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism looked at nearly 60 websites known for spreading misinformation and found that many of them included advertisements from major brands, around the world.

The types of websites that the Bureau looked at included mostly sites that included COVID-19 conspiracy theories. Several websites included false information surrounding Bill Gates and COVID, and others are known for spreading lies about mRNA vaccinations.

Of all the companies that the analysis found on suspicious websites, Amazon seems to be the most prevalent. Ads for Amazon Pharmacy were found on more than 30 of the websites analyzed in this report.

Why are Amazon and other companies’ ads ending up on these sites?

So why are these companies’ advertisements ending up on these websites, providing funding and helping these sites grow? The problem lies with how digital advertising works.

Digital ads are handled by massive tech companies, like Google. These companies use algorithms and AI to deliver ads to websites. This means that most of the time companies don’t know exactly where their purchased ads are going.

Of course, there are many moderation processes in place on both Google and most companies’ ends. But unfortunately, there are still some sites that fly under the radar and are able to profit off of selling ads space to these companies. Most companies will remove the advertisements whenever something like this is brought to their attention, but most of the time the damage is already done.

The problem here seems to boil down to the nature of digital advertising. As long as ads are delivered the way they are, with AI and algorithms through these massive tech platforms, there will be sites that are able to fly under the radar and take advantage of the financial benefits from selling ad space to major brands like Amazon.

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