Google's and Facebook's pledge to stop "fake news" sites publishing initially misleading deceptive articles continues to make headlines, but Dan Greenberg, founder and CEO at Sharethrough, believes "fake news" isn't the only problem today -- and that it's something the ad tech industry has the power to fix.
Greenberg, who serves as the co-chair of the IAB native ad committee and taught a class at Stanford on Facebook, says there are a small handful of companies that create fake news for profit, and points to a partial list published on The Daily Dot.
These "bad actors," as Greenberg calls then, don't buy ads, but make money from ads on their sites. Those ads are largely powered by six ad-tech companies, two of which are Google and AppNexus. Both companies have stood up to say that they are taking steps to remove their ads from the list of fake news sites.
The issue of fake news comes during a time as ad tech companies have begun to flex their power. This particular example focuses less on "fake news" and more on a publisher using "coded or overt language." Bloomberg reported Tuesday that AppNexus has banned Breitbart News from using its ad-serving tools because, after auditing the content on its Web site, the operator of the digital advertising service found that the publisher violated its hate speech rules.
As for sites publishing "fake news," Greenberg says advertisers "could help by creating lists of sites they don't want to spend on, but the real, easy way to solve this specific, blatant fake news problem is to have those other four ad tech companies disallow these bad actors from profiting by placing the widgets and ads from those companies on their sites."
One problem that helped to push "fake news" into the "In the news" section of Google's search engine (and perhaps into Facebook's News Feed) is the fact that the company expanded the type of content it allowed to appear within the "In the news" section," including press releases and promotional commentary.
"Strange times," Greenberg wrote in an email to SearchBlog. "There aren't tens of thousands . . . there are probably 100 of them that make up 80% or more of the fake news articles that are shared."
And, oh by the way, Happy Thanksgiving. See you back here on Friday for another adventure. Be safe.