After a small organisation called Stop Funding Fake News alerted Oxford’s Said Business School to the news that its advertisements were appearing on fake news websites, the school immediately instructed its media buying agencies to stop using programmatic advertising – the use of automation in buying and selling media, programmatic can apply to anything from display to digital out-of-home and television.
Stop Funding Fake News says the fake news industry is largely funded by online advertising by big brands, who usually have no idea where their money is going; they just pay a middle-man who places the ads.
“This advantages websites that prioritise sensationalist clickbait – stories that play fast and loose with the truth in order to generate the most traffic.This damages our democracy and society,” adds the campaigning organisation.
Josie Powell, spokesperson at the Said Business School, said: “‘These sites are not consistent with our values as a school. As soon as we realised our media buying agencies were using programmatic advertising, we instructed them to stop doing so.”
Three in four British adults think that it should be a criminal offence to spread fake news deliberately, newly-published research by Ipsos MORI for King’s College London has found. Seven in ten also say they are worried that fake news could influence the result of an election or referendum in Britain.
The survey, conducted online in February with 1,084 adults aged 16-75 across Great Britain, which defined “fake news” as “deliberately untrue information disguised as news stories with the intention of deceiving people”, found that 39% agreed strongly that “It should be a criminal offence to spread fake news deliberately”, and a further 36% tended to agree. Only one in ten tended to disagree (6%) or strongly disagreed (3%). There was strong agreement across all age groups, but older participants were particularly likely to agree. Among those who said that they use online news sites as their main source of news, 73% were in favour and only 9% against.