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New ad slams tech giants over Russian disinformation

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A new ad from a group advocating for tech reform will slam industry giants over their handling of Russian disinformation amid the war in Ukraine. 

The Tech Oversight Project’s 30-second TV ad will run in the Washington, D.C., market starting Tuesday and accuses tech giants of helping spread Russian disinformation despite their public pledges to crack down on the state-controlled media. 

“Big Tech says they’re taking action, but new reports show some of them are still helping Russia spread disinformation,” a narrator says, according to a copy of the ad exclusively shared with The Hill. 

The group, which launched in January and is primarily funded by the Omidyar Network and the Economic Security Project, is pushing for antitrust reform as a way to curb companies’ power. 

“Simply put, Big Tech is not doing enough to stop Russian disinformation campaigns if they are still cashing Kremlin-backed checks on their platforms. This is part of a broader pattern of Big Tech concealing the truth from both the public and lawmakers — this time with devastating consequences for the people of Ukraine — and shows why they cannot be trusted,” Sacha Haworth, executive director of the Tech Oversight Project, said in a statement. 

“Americans are crystal clear where they stand: hold Big Tech accountable for their actions that harm small businesses, users, and national security by passing antitrust reform now,” Haworth added. 

The ad broadly attacks the four largest tech companies targeted in antitrust reform proposals — Meta, Google, Amazon and Apple — but specifically calls out Meta and Google based on reporting about ads on the platforms spreading pro-Russian disinformation.  

Both Meta, Facebook’s parent company, and Google said they would stop allowing Russian state media to run ads on their platforms at the end of February, after Russia launched its invasion into Ukraine. The companies also took further action to restrict access to Russian state-controlled media after calls from global leaders. 

Last week, however, Axios reported that ads from Chinese state broadcaster CGTN are running on Facebook targeting global users with pro-Russian talking points. 

A Meta spokesperson did not directly respond to the report or the ad but highlighted Meta’s policy of labeling state-controlled media entities, including CGTN. 

NewsGuard reported last week that dozens of websites promoting Russian disinformation about the war in Ukraine, including official Russian state media sources, continued to receive revenue from advertisements including ones served on Google.  

A spokesperson for Google in a statement said the company had stopped monetizing Russia state-funded media last month.

“Since then, our teams have continued to evaluate sites across our network and we will take action as we detect additional state-funded media entities,” the spokesperson said. “Further, all publishers must abide by our existing policies, which prohibit content that incites violence, promotes hate, or denies the occurrence of tragic events.”

 

Tags Amazon Apple Big tech Disinformation Facebook Google META Meta Platforms Propaganda techniques Russia State media Ukraine Ukraine invasion
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