How to Reduce Fake News in Online Advertising

Steps can be taken to reduce the threat of fake news infiltrating online advertising.

Speaking at the Westminster Forum conference on tackling fake news and online disinformation, Konrad Shek, deputy director of policy and regulation at the Advertising Association, said the advent of disinformation had a “huge impact on confidence in media and politics”.

He said that within commercial advertising, there have been instances of misrepresentation and promoted stories, and manipulated content, which can appear on social media and news feeds, while some sites Webs that “spread false information are supported by advertisements and legitimate advertisements can end up on these questionable websites.

He also explained that there are scammers online who use tactics to better promote ads, including adding clicks for bad attribution, which can divert money from advertisers to the scam actor. “I refrain from saying that restricting ads is a solution, because you have to think about the consequences of an approach and the impact it would have on the free internet,” he said. This calls for four options, he continued:

  1. Try to stifle funds for fake news websites as brands are already sensitive to the impact of being associated with these websites and it is a good incentive to work to be placed on such websites . However, he pointed out that the speed of ads in the supply chain means that it is not always possible to know where the ad was posted.
  2. The use of standards and technologies to reduce ad fraud and ad dollars in the supply chain. “There are already a number of industry standards that have anti-fraud certification processes,” he said, with technology that can help fight ad fraud with an ever-increasing number of detection and prevention tools. “To that end, it is really important that the ASA is properly funded and that it can continue to invest in technology to help it spot non-compliant advertising online.”
  3. Help the general public to develop its resistance and encourage critical thinking. “We need to invest more in digital literacy to help people get vaccinated against scams and misinformation,” he said. “With society as a whole, we need to take a more critical look at the media – look at the ads with a more critical eye and ask what is the motivation behind it, and is it too good to be true? “
  4. Address political advertising, as it is not regulated by the ASA. “Politicians and political parties must come together to find an appropriate solution quickly, because in the meantime unregulated political advertising is eroding trust in all advertising.”

“There is obviously a lot more to do,” Shek said. “Economic gain is a big factor in why disinformation exists, because advertising plays such a vital role in it, but we have to realize that there are other factors at play.”

He asserted that a solution requires a holistic and appropriate multidisciplinary approach, and that work needs to be done to ensure that like-minded countries are allied on this, as it is difficult to discern what is real. and what is not.