Russia not only spreading disinformation on YouTube, but also earning millions on it. Reuters research

07 June 2019, 17:54

Fourteen Russia-supported YouTube channels that distribute disinformation produce billions of views and millions of dollars in advertising revenue, while they were not designated as state-funded, in breach of the service’s policy. Reuters described the situation in its article “Russian disinformation on YouTube draws ads, lacks warning labels: researchers”.

Channels, including news outlets (such as NTV and Russia-24), disseminated false reports, which would tell about “U.S. politician covering up a human organ harvesting ring or the economic collapse of Scandinavian countries”. However, such content got viewers, and companies from the US and Europe bought ads.

Channels disseminated false reports, which could tell about U.S. politician covering up a human organ harvesting ring or the economic collapse of Scandinavian countries.

The Washington-based firm Omelas, which tracks extremism on the Internet for defense contractors, estimates that views from these channels could generate up to $ 58 million from advertising, including from Western advertisers.

Russia could get from 7 to 32 million dollars in the framework of the standard YouTube program for income distribution, and YouTube itself could receive from 6 to 26 million dollars. More accurate analysis is limited with YouTube’s audience and revenue data.

“YouTube continues to enable the monetization of state propaganda, fringe conspiracies and intentional outrage,” Ryan Fox, chief operating officer of cybersecurity firm New Knowledge told the publication.

Reportedly, YouTube generally receives revenue from the sale of ads placed alongside, before or during the video on its service. Some western advertisers, who did not know their ads are shown on Russian channels, told Reuters they were concerned that they could be associated with controversial content.

“Misinformation is probably the biggest problem we face today on the Internet,” said John Montgomery, global executive vice president of advertising for GroupM.