March 1, 2020

GDI Primer: The US (Dis)information Ecosystem

Key Takeaways1/3

Using our technology, GDI has identified five sites which currently carry the highest amount of election-related disinformation. These sites are: three U.S.-based sites and two Russian-based sites. In total, these five sites have an average of over 115 million U.S.- based visitors per month.

As voting is underway in the 2020 U.S. elections, it is critical to understand the (dis)information ecosystem and the risks posed by it over the election, transition and inauguration period.

The Global Disinformation Index (GDI) sees disinformation as a process, not an event, one that results in purposely and/or maliciously misleading content.

The GDI has put together this primer for brands and advertisers to highlight:

  1. The disinforming narratives and angles to watch for in the election.
  2. The online publications peddling in these conspiracies.
  3. The ad tech companies that currently enable this advertising.

This primer aims to help brands and advertisers understand and change their role in the disinformation ecosystem—something for which the GDI has consistently advocated. They can make a difference by directing their advertising away from high-risk and brand-unsuitable sites toward sites with low levels of disinformation risk.

Such advertising decisions are not about censorship or curtailing free speech. Advertisers have the right to brand safety and the right not to fund divisive, polarising and disinforming content.

The GDI has used both artificial intelligence powered classifiers as well as human assessment to identify sites which represent good, brand safe environments over this election period as well as those which brands should avoid. Through this process, and with additional research using our risk assessment methodology, we have developed the following guidance.