Nov 12, 2021 • 53M

Theory of Change #026: Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin on the economics of disinformation

The disinformation economy isn’t invincible, meet two women working to end it


Appears in this episode

Matthew Sheffield
Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? History is filled with stories of people and institutions that spent big and devoted many resources to effect change but have little to show for it. By contrast, many societal developments have happened without forethought from anyone. And of course, change can be negative as well as positive. In each episode of this weekly program, Theory of Change host Matthew Sheffield delves deep with guests to discuss larger trends in politics, religion, media, and technology.
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Episode Summary

By now, a lot of people are aware of and concerned about the lies, hatred, and rumors that are so rampant on social media. The social media companies are definitely responsible to a large degree for letting this happen. But they don’t deserve all the blame. There’s another sector of the internet economy that has been promoting and even paying the merchants of hatred and lies—the advertising technology business, better known as “Ad Tech.”

What is ad tech? Basically it’s the software and services behind the zillions of ads that are basically inescapable on the internet through a complicated system of exchanges and instantaneous bidding. These companies are known for their practice of tracking and spying on people’s browsing habits, but they also are, in many cases, lying to the advertisers themselves about their ads—who watches them and where they appear.

The long and short of it is that companies who advertise are often unaware that their advertising budgets are being used to subsidize bigoted and hateful content.

How this all works is very complicated but the good news is that there is something that we can all do to help stop these shady practices. In this episode, we feature Nandini Jammi and Claire Atkin, the co-founders of Check My Ads, a new organization that’s working on helping organizations and individuals put an end to online bigotry.

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