How businesses can defund fake news by boycotting ad placements
Published by on February 8, 2017 in Information Security

fake news
Businesses might be advertising on fake news sites without even realizing it. To help stop the spread of fake news sites and defund their operations, Comparitech is encouraging businesses that advertise online to blacklist fake news and hate speech sites from displaying their advertisements.

Businesses that advertise online most likely do so through large “bidding platforms” like Google AdWords and other ad networks. These services can automatically match advertisers with the best websites and placements at a given budget to reach a target audience.

This technology certainly makes online advertising much more convenient, but many businesses might not realize where their advertisements actually end up. A business could unknowingly place its advertisement on a fake news or hate speech site. Not only does this help to fund the fake news site, it could damage the reputation of the businesses.

We don’t need to tell you the damage that fake news has caused and is still causing. While some of these might be funded by foreign entities (coughputincough), our hope is that cutting them off from reputable advertisers will put a dent in their operations.

Fortunately, businesses need not scrap their ad networks and campaigns altogether to take action. Most bidding platforms, including Google AdWords, allow advertisers to add specific websites to a blacklist where they don’t want their ads to appear.

Google AdWords is the most popular platform for advertising, so we’ll show you how to blacklist sites step by step here.

How to blacklist fake news sites on Google AdWords

This tutorial will guide you through the blacklisting process to prevent your ads from appearing on fake news and hate speech sites on Google AdWords. Other advertising platforms should have similar capabilities.

  1. Log into your AdWords account. While under the default Campaigns tab, click Shared library in the left sidebaradwords fake site exclusion 1
  2. Under Shared library in the left sidebar, click Campaign placement exclusionsadwords fake site exclusion 2
  3. Click the red + List buttonadwords fake site exclusion 3
  4. Create a name for your list. Call it whatever you want. Enter the list of domains you wish to exclude (see our recommended shortlist below) in the Placements field. Each domain must have its own line. No spaces or commas. Click Saveadwords fake site exclusion 4
  5. Your list should now appear on the Campaign placement exclusions page. Check the box next to it and click Apply to campaignsadwords fake site exclusion 5
  6. Click all of the ad campaigns you wish to apply the blacklist to (all of them). They will appear on the right under Selected campaigns. Click Save
  7. That’s it! You should see a notification at the top of the page that says “Your updates have been saved.”
  8. If you want to update your list to add or remove sites, just click the list name on the Campaign placement exclusions page and click the red + Add button

Money well spent

Removing ads from fake news sites not only serves to stem the flow of money to fake news sites, it can also help businesses better allocate their advertising budgets. Research shows that advertisements on fake news sites aren’t worth the money.

Last year, online marketing company WordStream analyzed advertisements on Breitbart, the undisputed king of inflammatory right-wing fake news and hate speech, and found them to consistently underperform:

In reviewing data from November 2016, WordStream managed a total of 3,098 accounts whose ads had appeared on Breitbart. Nearly all those advertisers didn’t necessarily intend to advertise on the domain; only 7 accounts of those 3,098 had targeted the domain as a managed placement in their campaigns. During November, these accounts displayed over 3 million impressions on the site and their overall ad performance on the domain was awful! Ads on Breitbart.com have surprisingly low click-through rates, poor conversion rates, and cost far too much per click, compared to its peers on the Google Display Network.

What are corporations doing about this?

Last year, several major brands pulled their advertisements from Breitbart and other sites containing fake news and hate speech. Kellog, Hulu, Warby Parker, and others pulled their advertisements from the site. Fans of the site organized a boycott of Kellog in response, but the movement was shortlived.

To quell the rise of fake news Google and Facebook have both taken a stand against fake news. Google recently banned 200 publishers from its AdSense network for spreading misinformation, while Facebook has adjusted its algorithms to give fake news stories less prominence in users’ feeds. AppNexus, a major advertising technology provider, removed Breitbart from using its ad-serving tools on its website for publishing hate speech.

These are steps in the right direction, but we shouldn’t depend on Google and other corporations to stamp out fake news on our behalf. Advertising is Google’s primary source of revenue, after all. Blacklisting websites yourself is a proactive way to make a tangible difference.

Smaller advertisers probably need not worry about backlash and boycotts from readers of fake news sites. Unless you are a major corporation, removing your ads from a website will most likely go unnoticed unless you publicize your actions (which we encourage you to do!).

To be clear, we weren’t the first group to have this idea. Sleeping Giants, for example, has actively pressured advertisers to remove their ads from Breitbart for some time. They maintain a list of advertisers who have confirmed that they blocked Breitbart from their media plans. While Sleeping Giants primarily focuses on Breitbart, if you want to be added to the list, contact them them on Twitter or Facebook.

List of fake news websites

We’ve made a shortlist (okay, it’s a rather long list) of fake news sites lifted from a document published by Melissa Zimdars, an assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, in 2016. Zimdars tagged more than 900 sites with up to three of the following categories: fake news, satire, extreme bias, conspiracy theory, rumor mill, state news, junk science, hate news, clickbait, unreliable, political, credible, and unknown. Our shortlist contains the websites tagged with fake news, hate news, and conspiracy theory, but you can consider adding more from the full list.

Just copy and paste this into the AdWords blacklist. You’re free to add and remove sites as you please, of course.

24newsflash.com
70news.wordpress.com
abcnews.com.co
abcnewsgo.co
americannews.com
americanoverlook.com
beforeitsnews.com
bighairynews.com
bostonleader.com
breitbart.com
buzzfeedusa.com
cap-news.com
cbsnews.com.co
channel-7-news.com/
cityworldnews.com
civictribune.com
clashdaily.com
conservativebyte.com
conservativedailypost.com
conservativeinfidel.com
dailybuzzlive.com
dailyheadlines.com
dailyheadlines.net
dcgazette.com
denverguardian.com
departed.co
donaldtrumpnews.co
downtrend.com
drudgereport.com.co
embols.com
empireherald.com
empirenews.net
enabon.com
enduringvision.com
eutopia.buzz
fakingnews.com
floridasunpost.com
freedomdaily.com
goneleft.com
gopthedailydose.com
infostormer.com
intrendtoday.com
itaglive.com
ItMakesSenseBlog.com
iwanttoexplore.com
libertyblitzkrieg.com
mediamass.net
megynkelly.us
mpidailymagazine.com
mrconservative.com
msnbc.website
myfreshnews.com
myzonetoday.com
nationonenews.com
nbc.com.co
news4ktla.com
newsbbc.net
newsbuzzdaily.com
newsexaminer.net
newsfrompolitics.com
newslo.com
newswatch28.com
newswatch33.com
newswithviews.com
now8news.com
onlineconservativepress.com
pakalertpress.com
politicalo.com
politicalsitenews.com
politicalupdator.com
prntly.com
proudcons.com
react365.com
realnewsrightnow.com
rhotv.com
rickwells.us
rilenews.com
stormcloudsgathering.com
subjectpolitics.com
supremepatriot.com
theamericanindependent.wordpress.com
thebostontribune.com
thecommonsenseshow.com
thecontroversialfiles.net
thefreepatriot.org
thelastgreatstand.com
theracketreport.com
thereporterz.com
therightists.com
thetruthdivision.com
thetruthseeker.co.uk
threepercenternation.com
trumpvision365.com
undergroundworldnews.com
unitedmediapublishing.com
usadailypolitics.com
usahitman.com
usanewsflash.com
usanewsinsider.com
usasupreme.com
usconservativetoday.com
ushealthyadvisor.com
uspoliticslive.com
vigilantcitizen.com
viralliberty.com
webdaily.com
weeklyworldnews.com
worldpoliticsus.com
worldrumor.com
worldstoriestoday.com
yesimright.com
yourfunpage.com
amren.com
barenakedislam.com
bigbluevision.com
christianfightback.com
dailyken.com
dailystormer.com
darkmoon.me
davidduke.com
EUTimes.net
gatesofvienna.net
glaringhypocrisy.com
libertyfederation.com
returnofkings.com
themuslimissue.wordpress.com
therightstuff.biz
truthfeed.com
whitepower.com
21stcenturywire.com
82.221.129.208
abeldanger.net
abovetopsecret.com
activistpost.com
Alt-Market.com
americanfreepress.net
americanreviewer.com
angrypatriotmovement.com
assassinationscience.com
awarenessact.com
awdnews.com
BB4SP.com
BullionBullsCanada.com
canadafreepress.com
concisepolitics.com
conservativerefocus.com
conspiracyplanet.com
conspiracywire.com
corbettreport.com
corbettreport.com
countdowntozerotime.com
counterpsyops.com
dailyoccupation.com
dataasylum.com
davidwolfe.com
dcclothesline.com
disclosuremedia.net
Dont-Tread-On.Me
Dutchsinse.com
EbolaHoax.com
educate-yourself.org
electionnightgatekeepers.com
Expose1933.com
eyeopening.info
familysecuritymatters.org
fellowshipoftheminds.com
fourwinds10.net
fprnradio.com
FreedomForceInternational.com
freedomoutpost.com
fromthetrenchesworldreport.com
gaia.com
gangstergovernment.com
globalresearch.ca
godlikeproductions.com
govtslaves.info
greanvillepost.com
henrymakow.com
humansarefree.com
informationclearinghouse.info
infowars.com
intellihub.com
investmentresearchdynamics.com
jesus-is-savior.com
jonesreport.com
libertymovementradio.com
libertytalk.fm
libertyvideos.org
militianews.com
nationindistress.weebly.com
newstarget.com
nodisinfo.com
NoMoreFakeNews.com
nowtheendbegins.com
oilgeopolitics.net
pamelageller.com
politicalblindspot.com
prepperwebsite.com
prisonplanet.com
prisonplanet.com
prisonplanet.tv
rense.com
rumormillnews.com
secretsofthefed.com
sentinelblog.com
sheepkillers.com
shoebat.com
Silver-Coin-Investor.com
SilverBearCafe.com
SilverDoctors.com
SilverStealers.net
skeptiko.com
sonsoflibertyradio.com
thedailysheeple.com
theeconomiccollapseblog.com
theeventchronicle.com
TheExtinctionProtocol.com
theforbiddenknowledge.com
thelibertybeacon.com
themindunleashed.com
themindunleashed.org
thephaser.com
thepoliticalinsider.com
truthbroadcastnetwork.com
truthfrequencyradio.com
ufoholic.com
wakingupwisconsin.com
weshapelife.org
whatdoesitmean.com
whatreallyhappened.com
whowhatwhy.org
wikispooks.com
Willyloman.wordpress.com
worldtruth.tv
X22Report.com
zerohedge.com
zootfeed.com
365usanews.com
4threvolutionarywar.wordpress.com
anotherdayintheempire.com
antoniusaquinas.wp.com
BrotherJohnF.com
conservativefiringline.com
conservativetribune.com
cowgernation.com
darkpolitricks.com
FreedomsPhoenix.com
heresyblog.net
off-guardian.org
oftwominds.com
openmindmagazine.com
orientalreview.org
patriotrising.com
patriotupdate.com
paulcraigroberts.org
platosguns.com
redflagnews.com
thefederalistpapers.org
thegatewaypundit.com
therealstrategy.com
thewatchtowers.com
truthandaction.org
truthkings.com
uschronicle.com
usherald.com
washingtonsblog.com
wearechange.org
collectivelyconscious.net
geoengineeringwatch.org
naturalblaze.com
naturalnews.com
realfarmacy.com
disclose.tv
readynutrition.com
Acting-Man.com
allnewspipeline.com
thefreethoughtproject.com
hangthebankers.com
investmentwatchblog.com
makeamericagreattoday.com
readconservatives.news
reagancoalition.com
notallowedto.com
frontpagemag.com
truthrevolt.org
thepoliticalcesspool.com
madworldnews.com
theantimedia.org
thelibertymill.com
washingtonexaminer.com
politicalcult.com
pravda.ru
pravdareport.com
topinfopost.com
christiantimesnewspaper.com
bvanews.com
extraclubmagazine.com
ihavethetruth.com

It is not our intention to lean left or right, as fake news is a problem on both sides of the aisle. Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for businesses to prevent their ads from ending up in the wrong place. If you take issue with this list, let us know in the comments.

Note that many of these sites use domains and websites that mimic real news sources, but are in fact intended to deceive readers. These include many sites with an extension added to the URL, such as ABCnews.com.co.

Bear in mind that fake news websites pop up all the time. We recommend you regularly update the list to stay one step ahead of the fake news fraudsters. If you know of a more up-to-date list (we’re not sure if Professor Zimdars still maintains this one), let us know in the comments.

One thought on “How businesses can defund fake news by boycotting ad placements

  • While I appreciate your desire to stop fake news; your list contradicts the list Zimdars list. You have sites on your “Fake News” list that are not listed as fake new by Zimdars. Maybe it’s been updated since you made this list, just wanted you to be aware of it since you wouldn’t want to spread fake news yourself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *