Report: Google Makes Millions from Fake News


Contact: Daniel Stevens, 202.780.5750,

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability released a report revealing Google continues to place ads on websites that promote false information despite promises to alter its practices.  CfA analyzed a sample of 1,255 news publishers and found that Google continues to place ads on hyper-partisan and misleading websites, resulting in millions of dollars in revenue for the company.

Read the report here.

CfA Executive Director, Daniel Stevens, said, “Google publicly pledged change, but it was nothing more than an empty promise.   While the company committed to cracking down on hate speech and fake news, its vast ad serving platform still places ads on websites that spread false information.”

Following revelations about the extent of fake news during the 2016 election, Google repeatedly vowed to stop fake news sites from using its dominant ad network to profit from spreading conspiracy theories, hateful material and outright falsehoods. Google said in a statement: “Moving forward, we will restrict ad serving on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose of the web property.”

CfA’s in-depth study of fake news sites, however, reveals that Google is still allowing many such sites to use its dominant ad network.  Google continues to partner with hyper-partisan sites that often post inaccurate information, and permits publishers to conceal their identities from advertisers so the company can continue to place ads on these anonymous websites.  CfA found that these anonymized publishers contributed more than eight times as much revenue per publisher for Google as compared to non-anonymized publishers.

Click here to read our methodology.

Google is currently facing widespread criticism on several fronts for its role in promoting the spread of fake news.  In aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, Google’s search engine briefly highlighted a 4chan thread that named the wrong person as the shooter behind the attack.  Congressional investigators are probing Google’s role in spreading fake news ahead of the 2016 election, and Great Britain is considering whether it should regulate Google as a media company.

Stevens continued, “Hyper-partisan and fake news sites are highly profitable for Google.  It’s no wonder the company continues to partner with such sites despite objections from advertisers and public officials.  Perhaps a public outcry will force Google to do the right thing and follow through with its pledge to change.”

Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.