Stop Funding Fake News

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Group.png SFFN   WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
InterestsThe Canary, Zero Hedge, Global Research, GreatGameIndia, Breitbart

Stop Funding Fake News (SFFN) is an advocacy group which asks advertisers to stop placing ads on web sites it argues are spreading misinformation ("fake news"). The organisation is small and mostly anonymous. Its website states that from 4 May 2020 the campaign became a project of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.[1]

The campaign began in March 2019, and was backed by Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman. It was inspired by the US success of Sleeping Giants, which had convinced several advertisers not to advertise on the Breitbart News website.

Targeting The Canary

In March 2019, the SFFN campaign helped persuade charity Macmillan Cancer Support not to advertise with The Canary, which it described as promoting conspiracy theories, defending antisemitism, and publishing fake news, after which Riley was targeted by trolls on Twitter. The action reportedly led to The Canary, which said they were "susceptible to pressure from political Zionists, and our advertising revenue is under fire", downsizing its operations.[2] Labour Party MP Chris Williamson described the SFFN's campaign against The Canary as a "sinister attempt to close down The Canary because it publishes the truth, stands up for human rights around the world and holds the establishment to account".[3]

The Canary responds

On 1 December 2020, John McEvoy wrote a long article in The Canary which began:

On 2 August 2019, an anonymous internet campaign named Stop Funding Fake News (SFFN) celebrated its apparent success in downsizing The Canary. For six months, SFFN had been trying to demonetise The Canary by lobbying companies to remove advertisements from its website.

The Canary can now reveal that Morgan McSweeney, Keir Starmer’s chief of staff, launched the organisation that now runs SFFN.

SFFN CEO Imran Ahmed has also worked closely with a number of Labour figures previously involved in the campaign to remove Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.

Rachel Riley, a prominent supporter of SFFN, is listed as a patron of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), an organisation closely linked to SFFN.

SFFN claims that it has been “a project of the Center for Countering Digital Hate” since 4 May 2020. The relationship between the two organisations, however, appears to date back far longer. And crucially, CCDH is linked to a number of figures on the Labour right.[4]

Other targets

The same week as The Canary's decision, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon's far right TR News, another target of the campaign, gave up on advertising to rely solely on donations.

By September 2019, Ted Baker, Adobe Inc., Chelsea FC, eBay and Manchester United were among the 40 brands and charities that the group had persuaded to stop advertising on what the campaign called fake news sites. In October 2019, MP Mary Creagh credited it with identifying advertisements for tours of the Houses of Parliament on Breitbart.

The campaign has also targeted the right-wing Politicalite and Westmonster, and left wing Dorset Eye and Evolve Politics. On its blocklist[5] one can also find Global Research, GreatGameIndia and twenty or so other sites.

Zero Hedge

In summer 2020, it reported that Zero Hedge and The Federalist were among websites promoting racist fake news in the wake of the George Floyd protests; according to Gizmodo this led to Google removing Zero Hedge from its AdSense platform.[6]

Off-Guardian reacts

In August 2020, Off-Guardian reacted:

The CCDH’s Stop Funding Fake News campaign, encourages advertisers to avoid placing ads on websites the CCDH don’t like. Their successful campaign apparently influenced Twitter to ban the website Zero Hedge. At least the CCDH are happy to give that impression.

The CCDH say Zero Hedge is a “fake news” site that spreads coronavirus misinformation. Zero Hedge republish work from other sites and, it is fair to say, the quality can vary. However Zero Hedge also produce their own content which is well researched, cites all the evidence it uses. It is very far from the genuine fake news we commonly see from the mainstream media (MSM).

The CCDH report that Twitter banned Zero Hedge for the doxxing (revealing personal contact details) of a Chinese research scientist. The offending article does report Dr Zhou’s office contact email and work phone number, which were publicly available on the Wuhan Institute of Virology website at the time. Zero Hedge didn’t reveal anything at all, they simply reported information already in the public domain.

While failing to correct this erroneous charge of doxxing, the CCDH were spinning fake news of their own. They wrote:

"…They [Zero Hedge] claimed [Dr Zhou] was behind the global Coronavirus pandemic.”

Zero Hedge made no such claim in the article. They cited a lot of evidence which made it a perfectly legitimate question to ask. All they did was report the evidence and ask the obvious question the evidence raised.

According to the CCDH this is coronavirus disinformation. Yet it is their misreporting of the facts that is disinformation and their claims that are fake news. Which doesn’t lend much credibility to further allegations they have made against the other websites and small businesses they have decided to attack.[7]

See also


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