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Pro-left group aims to drain Fox News of advertisers

Fox News, Breitbart, Steve Bannon, Glenn Beck, Dan Bongino, Democracy

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Pro-left group aims to drain Fox News of advertisers

A pro-left group named ‘Check My Ads’, which is led by an Indian-American named Nandini Jammi, after causing huge damage to Breitbart is now all set with new mission against Fox News. In her latest tweet, this fanatic activist of the Democratic Party wrote: “Five years ago, I co-founded the campaign to make Breitbart unprofitable. They lost 90% of their ad revenues in 3 months. Today, we’re launching the campaign to take on Fox News — and we know exactly how to get the job done”.

According to media reports, this nonprofit aiming to defund disinformation online that has taken money out of the pockets of several prominent far-right websites now has its sights set on its most formidable target yet: Fox News.

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The group, Check My Ads, is hoping the success it has had in stripping advertising dollars from right-wing provocateurs including Steve Bannon, Glenn Beck and Dan Bongino will give it momentum as it attempts to confront a powerful media empire.

Former marketer Claire Atkin, who co-founded Check My Ads, argues that Fox “encouraged and supported” the attack on the Capitol.

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“Advertisers have said over and over again, ‘We don’t want to fund violence,’ so it’s shocking that Fox News is still receiving these ad dollars”, she said.

Mikel Ellcessor, the group’s chief operating officer, points to Fox News star Tucker Carlson’s sympathetic portrayal of the Capitol rioters and Carlson’s documentary series “Patriot Purge,” which promoted conspiracy theories about January 6, falsely suggesting the violence was instigated by left-wing activists and calling the rioters “political prisoners”.

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“What happens on Fox News television helps fund all of their digital properties,” he said. “You don’t get to claim that your hands are free and clean when you put a dollar into the Fox News operation”.

In a statement, Fox News dismissed the campaign as an effort at censorship, saying “There’s no greater threat to democracy than the effort to silence free speech”.

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The network said it takes pride in “featuring more dissenting viewpoints on the major issues facing the country than our cable news competitors”.

The push by the left-leaning activists comes amid growing calls from online advertising watchers for there to be more transparency and accountability in the complex industry that is digital advertising, an ever-growing segment of the economy in which an estimated US$521 billion was spent last year.

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Instead of calling for a consumer boycott, Check My Ads took a newer approach: apply public pressure on the hidden engines of the online advertising world: ad exchanges.

The exchanges, operated by companies like Google and Verizon but also a collection of smaller firms, are kind of the middlemen between a company trying to place an ad and a website.

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Often the exchanges have content rules that say they will not place ads on sites that promotes the overthrow of the government or glorifies violence.

When the group pointed out to exchanges that some sites they are doing business with violate their own rules, the exchanges acted. An exchange called Freewheel dropped Steve Bannon’s Real America’s Voice; another exchange called OpenX blocked Glenn Beck’s the Blaze; Google severed ties with Dan Bongino’s website. In all, the group estimates that the campaign has cut off millions of dollars from sites spreading disinformation.

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“Ad exchanges have set a line, they set a standard for how their publishers should operate. We are just saying, ‘You need to uphold your own standard,'” said Atkin, who says her group is going after the “ATM of the disinformation economy”.

According to information, websites peddling disinformation generate more than US$2 billion in advertising revenue each year, according to an analysis by NewsGuard and ComScore.

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Check My Ads says their goal is not just to take that money out of circulation, but to shed new light on just how the shadowy world of online advertising operates.

Some 90 percent of online ads are generated through an automated process, as opposed to being directly placed by a company.

Industry insiders call this system “programmatic advertising”, which basically means it is automated by computer software, according to Joshua Lowcock, an executive at the marketing and media agency UM.

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“It’s like a stock exchange,” Lowcock said. “When you visit a website, there are multiple advertisers bidding on you in a real-time auction”.

Commenting on the activities of ‘Check My Ads’, eminent writer Art Moore wrote:

Check My Ads staffers acknowledged that harming Fox News financially is an uphill battle. But [Nandini] Jammi said the campaign also about attacking Fox’s legitimacy and spotlighting who is financially supporting the network.

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“We can do more than just complain and be sad and tweet and share with each other that we’re sad about where Fox News has taken us as a country”. Jammi told NPR. “We can actually fight back”.

While ‘Check My Ads’ has been continuing war against “disinformation” targeting anti-Democrat news organizations and websites, it has been promoting pro-Biden and pro-Democratic Party outlets, helping those with advertisement revenue worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This non-profit also is targeting news organizations and websites which are countering western lies against Russia as well as pro-Ukraine propaganda. Because of frantic bids of this organization, several search engines have started prominently promoting propaganda stuff catered by obscure or minor newspapers and news sites that publish propaganda stuffs against Russia.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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