Study Claims YouTube Ads of 100 Top Brands Fund Climate Misinformation

Alex Hern, reporting for The Guardian:

Some of the biggest companies in the world are funding climate misinformation by advertising on YouTube, according to a study from activist group Avaaz.

The group found that more than 100 brands had adverts running on YouTube videos on the site that were actively promoting climate misinformation. The brands, including Samsung, L’Oreal and Decathlon, were unaware that their adverts were being played before and during the videos.

How do we know they were unaware? I highly doubt any of these brands specifically wanted their ads to run against climate change disinformation videos, but doesn’t the scattershot “just let the algorithm figure out where to run our ads” strategy many (most?) big YouTube advertisers take imply that some of the spots are going to run against unsavory content?

I really feel as a culture we are barely coming to grips with the power of YouTube, Facebook, and to some degree, Twitter, as means of spreading mass-market disinformation. The pre-internet era of TV, print, and radio was far from a panacea. But it just wasn’t feasible in those days for a disinformation campaign — whether from crackpots who believe the nonsense, corporate industry groups, or foreign governments — to get in front of the eyes of millions of people.

It feels like something out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel that this is not only the state we’re in today, but that big name mass market advertisers are running commercials on this stuff.

Friday, 17 January 2020