Microsoft: Stop Promoting Online Disinformation

Target: Mike Welch, Xandr Executive Vice President  and General Manager

Goal: Abstain from monetizing hate speech and fake news.

Xandr, the ad platform owned by Microsoft Advertising, has decided to let revenue dollars flow into a set of websites that were previously flagged as disinformation. The marketing platform previously used to comply with a ‘blacklist’ of flagged media compiled by the Global Disinformation Index (GDI). The British organization maintained a ‘dynamic exclusion list’ that hitherto served as the blueprint for categorizing ad revenue distribution via Xandr. Defunding certain media outlets is crucial in combating the wave of online disinformation such as the frenzy leading to the Capitol Hill riot on January 6, 2021. “We try to take a principled approach to accuracy and fighting foreign propaganda,” said a statement from a company spokesperson explaining Microsoft’s stance. “We’re working quickly to fix the issue, and Xandr has stopped using GDI’s services while we are doing a larger review.”

GDI compiles the set of offensive websites via the discretion of its ‘advisory panel,’ which includes top digital marketing execs such as Ben Nimmo, global threat intelligence lead for Meta. The Global Disinformation Index maintains affiliations with key non-profit groups in the US. In the absence of non-profit affiliations to monitor hate speech, the internet risks becoming a minefield of fake news, potentially harmful to civic society.

The Global Disinformation Index has been a target of Republican resentment, at what they term systematic censorship of free speech. However, non-partisan media outlets have categorically abstained from the Republican claim that the 2020 presidential election was won by vote fraud. During the 2020 presidential debate, experts from the United States Intelligence Community (USIC) warned Congress that the Russian propaganda apparatus was trying to manipulate public opinion in favor of Donald Trump. Maintaining radical opinions does not champion the fundamental precepts of liberty and righteousness that is America. Global media must defend free speech, and services such as the Global Disinformation Index can help set up the key boundaries.

Adding your voice to the petition below helps make the internet safer. Funding fake news with ad revenues holds against the principles of ethical marketing. Demand Microsoft that it complies with the parameters set by media watchdogs to prohibit the spread of disinformation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear EVP Welch,

Xandr has recently decided to unfollow the flagged media blacklist set by the Global Disinformation Index (GDI). This step has the potential to fund fake news websites with critical ad revenue dollars.

Microsoft is known to pursue a principled approach to assert the accuracy of the information that it supports with its advertising mechanism. However, abstaining from authoritative outlets such as the GDI is in conflict with fundamental digital advertising ethics. Furthermore, monetizing misleading websites may be disruptive to the social fabric and create an alienated user base.

Therefore, we demand that proper steps should be taken to counter false propaganda on the internet. Microsoft Inc. must do all in its power to maintain its credibility in the face of a rampant tide of disinformation.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nick Youngson


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