Media Matters review of 100 websites that publish what it said was fake news found that 84 percent use at least one of three specific advertising networks for revenue.  Media Matters stated that “much of the public criticism about the proliferation of fake news in the past year has focused on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. While those platforms are vital in driving traffic to purveyors of fake news, less attention has been devoted to the series of advertising networks that help fake news websites turn those clicks into money. Creating revenue streams for websites that post this sort of content gives them an incentive to spread misinformation. For example, CNN reported in September that fake news purveyors from Macedonia, where much of this type of content originates, get their “profits … primarily from ad services such as Google’s AdSense.”

“The review found that the examined fake news purveyors use three advertising networks far more than others: Google AdSense, Revcontent, and Content.ad. AdSense appeared on 41 fake news-purveying websites, Revcontent on 40, and Content.ad on 36. The websites don’t use these networks exclusively, often employing multiple advertising networks concurrently.”

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