Department: Management Science and Engineering
Charles Eesley Research Lab
Examining the business model of misinformation: Online misinformation is largely financially sustained by advertising revenue. According to one estimate, for every $2.16 in digital ad revenue sent to legitimate newspapers, U.S. advertisers send $1 to misinformation websites (NewsGuard, 2021). Our project is informed by two overarching objectives – i) to understand how misinformation is sustained via advertising revenue, and ii) to investigate whether the advertisers who contribute towards sustaining misinformation websites do so deliberately or inadvertently. Taken together, our work seeks to inform interventions that can mitigate the financial incentive to misinform and contribute towards creating a more credible and sustainable information ecosystem. This summer we aim to conduct an experiment in partnership with NewsGuard, which offers a solution for advertisers to avoid placing their ads on misinformation websites, and with Chief Marketer, which offers a large sample of decision-makers in relevant marketing roles.