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Amazon and Nike are among major brands advertising on websites that spread COVID-19 misinformation, report says

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/19/2021 ztayeb@businessinsider.com (Zahra Tayeb)
graphical user interface, website: Ads for Amazon services were discovered on more than 30 sites, according to the analysis. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images © Provided by Business Insider Ads for Amazon services were discovered on more than 30 sites, according to the analysis. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
  • Amazon, Nike, and others advertised on sites promoting false COVID-19 claims, The Observer reported.
  • These companies may have unwittingly helped spread fake news, according to the outlet.
  • Ads for Amazon services were found on more than 30 sites that distributed false news.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Major companies and brands including Amazon, Nike, Ted Baker, and Asos, have been found advertising on websites that spread COVID-19 misinformation, The Observer and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported.

The Bureau's analysis, which was shared with The Observer, focused on 60 sites and spanned three months. Ads for many household names - both in the US and UK - featured on such sites, it found.

The companies whose ads were displayed appear to have unwittingly helped fund sites that spread false COVID-19 information, The Observer added.

Ads for Amazon services were discovered on more than 30 sites that distributed fake news, including ones making baseless claims about Bill Gates, according to The Observer. The Microsoft cofounder has regularly been the subject of vaccine conspiracy theories.


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Amazon and Nike did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

According to the report, Honda, Walgreens, and eBay were also among those whose ads were found on misinformation-spreading sites.

A spokesperson for American Honda told The Observer: "We are currently working to determine how our advertising may have appeared on the websites in question. We would never support Covid misinformation or knowingly allow our advertising on such websites."

The analysis found that the ads were being placed through the "opaque by design" digital advertising market, which is estimated to be worth more than $455 billion this year.

Even before these revelations surfaced, Amazon was facing scrutiny in relation to COVID-19 misinformation.

Books about hoax COVID-19 cures and anti-vaccination claims are frequently featured as top sellers on the digital retailer's site. As a result, US lawmakers are investigating the issue, Insider's Bethany Dawson reported.

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