Content recommendation network Revcontent has teamed with the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network to demonetize articles that spread fake news or misinformation.
If a fake news story spreads on social media, it drives traffic to the publisher’s site, where it can make money from digital advertising.
“As an ad network that pays out sites based on how much traffic they have … we felt a moral obligation to remove that financial incentive to spread misinformation,” Charlie Terenzio, brand manager for Revcontent, told Publishers Daily.
If two independent fact checkers within the International Fact Checking Network flag a story from a publisher within the Revcontent network as false, Revcontent will remove the content recommendation widget from that story.
The initiative does not classify the entire site as “fake news." It identifies individual pieces of content that are false.
Revcontent’s technology “can remove our widget from a specific URL, instead of the domain level,” Terenzio said.
“Our goal was to be completely transparent with how we handle reports of fake news and to be accountable to third-party organizations,” stated John Lemp, CEO-founder, Revcontent. “This initiative allows us to achieve that without running the risk of implementing our own bias in the decision-making process.”
Revcontent will also withhold any revenue generated by ads on that page.
For example, if fact checkers determine that a story is false, but it has been up for a week, revenue made for those seven days will be withheld.
Revcontent helps publishers like Newsweek and Forbes monetize their content. The company does not want to "have any affiliation with fake news or misinformation,” Terenzio said.
Alexios Mantzarlis, director of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network, hopes this policy change is "just the start of an ongoing systematic effort to remove the financial incentives of misinforming actors.”
The policy builds on Revcontent’s “Truth in Media"
initiative introduced a year ago, which allows users to flag articles as fake news through Revcontent's widgets.