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  1. 1.

    Why should you use our database?

    The content networks, such as Google Display Network, pay to websites using their advertisement system about 70% of the price of advertising, purchased by you through these networks. This is how you become a direct financial supporter of the websites providing content that is far from representing ethical and balanced news.

    Your brand thus becomes associated with the content that may seriously damage your reputation and, moreover, you are directly funding the creation of such content.

    Using our database, you or your agency are able to easily prevent this, avoiding any association of your brand with controversial content or its creation. We think that it is the social responsibility of each company to take into consideration who is financially benefiting from that company’s marketing activities.

    If you regularly publish new content or often link to external sites, you can also use our database on your news websites or information portals. By publishing such dubious links, you may unintentionally encourage displaying of conspiracy websites in the Google’s search results or in other search engines. Read the Controversial content in search results section to learn how it works and how you can prevent it.

  2. 2.

    Why is it that the content ad networks fail to protect the advertisers?

    In fact, they do attempt to protected them, be it just partially. For instance, they filter erotic content or any content that openly violates the law. However, controversial content requires in-depth review and that is beyond the capabilities of any automated system.

    That is why ads placed by advertisers commonly appear on such websites. Sometimes, it is truly difficult to distinguish and establish certain ethical boundaries between freedom of speech, alternative thinking, “plain stupidity” or deliberate deception or even hoax.

  3. 3.

    What is our mandate to designate a website unethical?

    It is our opinion that it is necessary to draw attention to any websites providing content that could harm the brands of advertisers. Such websites are in fact funded by these advertisers through ad networks. For instance, the advertisers may not necessarily agree withtreating cancer using baking soda, supporting the annexation of the Crimea, or helping these websites and their authors to operate by spending their advertisement money on such websites.

    We wish to remain unbiased as much as possible. That is why it is not us who decides on putting a particular website on the list. We have created a panel of experts to review any reported websites based on pre-defined and publicly available rules. This is to serve as a tool for all who want to know whether or not any entity whose activity may not be in accordance with the advertiser’s corporate culture or corporate responsibility profits from their money.

    It is up to each advertiser to decide on how strictly to follow this list. After all, you can check the relevance of our findings yourselves.

  4. 4.

    Which websites will make it to this list?

    Simply those, with respect to which we entertain serious doubts regarding their trustworthiness, and which we sincerely believe do not represent suitable partners for displaying ads placed by responsible advertisers. It is our Review Board that decides.

    In particular, those are websites promoting materials of charlatan nature, magical preparations that are obviously fraudulent to an expert, websites featuring deceptive or fake news, imaginary or profoundly twisted events that are in clear contradiction to the facts, conspiracy theories, vulgarisms, calls to violence, spreading false alarms, defaming minorities or races, as well as websites that do not respect basic principles of journalistic ethics. See the more specific criteria for inclusion in our database.

  5. 5.

    What are the criteria for inclusion in our database?

    We create a list of websites, with respect to which the members of our Review Board have doubts regarding their credibility and content quality. The choice is yours whether you agree with our list and whether you use it. The list of websites was compiled by the Review Board members based on their professional assessment of these websites under clearly defined criteria. The Review Board members do this work on a voluntary basis since they are convinced that it is of value to the whole society.

    In our database you will find websites that meet, in the opinion of the Review Board, at least one of the following points:

    1. A website contains materials of fraudulent or charlatan nature, such as miraculous healing, magic preparations and the like. The reviewed criterion is the conflict with objective, scientific knowledge, especially if such published information could lead to neglecting any necessary treatment or directly damage one’s health. This does not apply to traditional alternative treatment methods, promotion of healthy lifestyle or healing procedures based on nature etc.

    2. A website contains misleading news, misinformation or false propaganda, i.e. any claims that are in conflict with the facts, e.g. photos or videos used in some misleading context, made up or severely misinterpreted events, etc. This does not apply to clearly presented opinion articles.

    3. A website contains conspiracy theories and “delusions” that could have more serious political, economic or health consequences, stirring up passionate or hateful feelings without any critical assessment. This does not apply to curiosities, mysteries, or clearly marked speculations.

    4. A website contains vulgarisms, calls to violence, extremist content, spreading false alarms, aggressive personal attacks, such as “eye-for-eye”, defamation of minorities, races, nationalities, religious groups, etc.

    5. A website does not respect fundamental principles of journalistic ethics: it does not publish disclaimers (dementi), it leaves published and uncorrected any news that has been objectively proven untrue. A website does not have a clear owner or authors (protected information sources and pseudonyms are respected), the site does not publish any responses by concerned parties, it grossly mixes the actual news with commentaries, repeatedly publishes shocking or false claims aimed at increasing visitor traffic, which it however quickly corrects, etc.

    We shall gradually supplement and adapt these criteria based on our practical experience. Our primary goal is to protect the advertisers and their interests. The activities of the Review Board and the rules both follow this goal and we reserve the right to amend them as necessary.

    Our database is purely of advisory nature and it is the responsibility of each advertiser to consider how to use it. It represents the opinion of the Review Board, which opinion we by no means present as a fact.

  6. 6.

    How does the Review Board and inclusion in the list work?

    Using a simple form, any visitor to this site may request inclusion of any website in the list. Once a month, the Review Board receives for review such proposed websites that have not been reviewed yet.

    Each member of the Review Board scores each website on a scale of 0 to 10 points based on his/her personal assessment. S/he may even abstain from voting if s/he feels s/he cannot review a given website responsibly. 0 points means his/her total disapproval of including the website in the list, 10 points means that s/he is 100% convinced of inappropriateness of any advertising on the given website.

    The voting is considered valid if at least half of the members of the Review Board assign a score to the website. The final index is created as the average score for the members of the Review Board who participated in the vote.

    Given that our primary goal is to protect the reputation of advertisers, we consider inappropriate all websites that score more than 6 points. If you have a different opinion, you can set this limit yourself when exporting the data from our database, thereby increasing or reducing the number of websites you wish to exclude from your online ad campaign.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. 1.

    Do you prohibit businesses from advertising on “alternative” websites?

    We do not forbid or command anything. Use of our database is at the discretion of each advertiser. If they disagree with our list of questionable and disinformation sites, no one forces them to use it.

  2. 2.

    Do you forbid people from reading "alternative" sites?

    No, our project does not prevent anyone from reading and visiting whatever he/she wants.

    We're like movie reviewers: Before you go to the movie theater, you can read the review. If the review is bad, you can still go to see the movie and no reviewer will stop it. It's up to you to follow or ignore the reviewer's rating.

    And we work similarly: we are a platform that provides feedback from experts from different areas who rate websites instead of movies.

  3. 3.

    Are ad campaigns running through you?

    No, no advertising campaigns run through our project. Each ad campaign is created and managed by advertiser only.

    However, on a voluntary basis, an advertiser may use our list to exclude sites that have been labeled as problematic by our review board based on clear criteria

  4. 4.

    Do you decide where advertisers’ money goes?

    No, each ad campaign is created and managed by advertiser only. We have no knowledge of where and how much advertiser money goes. And so we have no impact on it.

    No advertising budgets run through our project and such a thing is not even technically possible.

  5. 5.

    Are you set to destroy “alternative” media?

    No, we want to protect advertisers who don't want to compromise their reputation by linking their brand with questionable, conspiracy, or disinformation content.

  6. 6.

    Who is behind you?

    Our project was created by a bunch of enthusiasts from digital and communication agencies. Our daily work is to build brands and protect our clients’ reputation. By advertising on disinformation sites and associating with their contents, brands may harm their reputation. Also, by advertising there, brands financially support such sites.

    We are pleased that many big advertisers and media agencies. joined our project

  7. 7.

    Are you liberal or conservative?

    It doesn't matter what we are. Our Review Board reviews reported sites against five clearly defined criteria. They look at their factual side and the way they work with information and how they apply journalistic principles and standards.

  8. 8.

    Does Soros pay you?

    Not. But you can. If you like what we do,be our one-time or regular supporter

    You will help us defend ourselves in legal disputes with conspiracy websites, educate people, strengthen media literacy and improve people's critical thinking skills.

  9. 9.

    Why do you write “alternative” quotes sites?

    Because they are no reasonable alternative. The alternative to the facts is just a lie. And the alternative to honest journalism is manipulation and misleading.