- 7. März 2022

Combating Misinformation Warfare: Responsible Action During the Current Conflict and Beyond

David Kovach
David Kovach
Senior Associate General Counsel
Comscore
Matt Skibinski
Matt Skibinski
General Manager
NewsGuard
Nate Leaf
Nate Leaf
Senior Director, Activation Product Management
Comscore

In our recent article It’s time to divest from the misinformation ecosystem: Why advertising responsibly on quality news makes good business sense we wrote that ‘online misinformation has moved beyond being a trend or phase to a crucial issue.’

When writing those words just a short time ago we could not have anticipated how understated they would seem today, with the United Nations General Assembly voting overwhelmingly to reprimand Russia and hold it to account for invading Ukraine. As the world holds its collective breath watching these tragic events unfold in Ukraine, an aggressive barrage of online misinformation has been unleashed to prosecute information warfare far beyond the boundaries of any regional battlefield.

Because this information warfare knows no boundaries and reaches us all, around the Globe, we write today to suggest that each of us can engage in meaningful action by pushing back on misinformation from wherever we are, with whatever tools we have at our disposal.

The Comscore and NewsGuard teams continue to develop and offer tools which can be used by anyone who wants to keep their brand from the tarnish associated with information warfare and avoid supporting purveyors of misinformation unintentionally with advertising revenue – a meaningful commercial extension of the economic sanction efforts in support of democratic freedoms.

NewsGuard Insights can assist with responsible ad-placement to support this outcome. For example, as the conflict in Ukraine develops NewsGuard reached out to its partners who rely on their brand-safety tools to update them on how NewsGuard’s analysts are monitoring sources of disinformation from the Kremlin. NewsGuard's constantly updated work ensures that companies and brands are protected against display advertising unintentionally appearing on Russian propaganda sources. As you may have seen, there has been recent media coverage of blue-chip advertisers whose ads are appearing on these websites. By using NewsGuard’s data to block ads on any Red-rated websites, brands are protected against supporting Russian disinformation sources, because NewsGuard has already rated numerous websites that are either operated directly by the Russian government or are linked to these government websites or are otherwise spre ading Kremlin disinformation.

Comscore insights can assist with responsible ad-placement to support this outcome. For example, Comscore has been closely monitoring the volume of content flagged for all risk levels of the Death, Injury or Military Conflict category as tensions have risen between Russia and Ukraine and updating our classification engine regularly as the situation has evolved. While the volume of this content has steadily increased throughout the course of the conflict, it jumped 46.7% after the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 as compared to the previous 30 days prior to the invasion. The good news for advertisers using Comscore insights is that even with the jump seen in content classified as High-Risk Military Conflict (depictions of death, insensitive treatment/glamorization of military conflict), the mainstream news and opinion coverage classified under the Medium and Low risk levels still represent 95% of all content within the Military Conflict category. This highlights the va lue of using the nuanced controls of the Brand Suitability risk levels rather than simple keyword suppression lists that will necessarily suppress large swaths of inventory, harming not only advertisers but the reputable news outlets that we rely on for quality coverage, the ultimate bulwark to thwart misinformation. 

Agencies and brands can activate Comscore’s brand safety and brand suitability categories and choose from eight NewsGuard-branded categories through Comscore’s integrations with leading DSPs. 

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