How a group of friends are fighting fake news – with a hand from Rachel Riley

How a group of friends are fighting fake news – with a hand from Rachel Riley

The campaign, called Stop Funding Fake News, combats hyper partisan websites by targeting advertisers

Countdown star Rachel Riley. Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire
Countdown star Rachel Riley. Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire

A small group of friends backed by countdown star Rachel Riley is targeting hyper partisan websites by hitting their revenue.

The campaign, called Stop Funding Fake News, combats news websites such as The Rebel Media, Westmonster, The Canary, Politicalite and Evolve Politics, through their advertisers.

“Fake news bears much responsibility for the growth in illiberalism, woman-hate, Jew-hate, Muslim-hate, trans-hate and political sectarianism in Britain,” activists told Jewish News.

Organisers say the campaign was inspired by Sleeping Giants in the US, which persuaded brands not to advertise on Breitbart, a website set up by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and accused of stoking division through disinformation.

“Several websites in the UK have copied the Breitbart model, funding their output with advertising revenue,” the group said.

“These so-called programmatic adverts are placed automatically without the advertiser’s knowledge, so big brands are unwittingly financing hateful propaganda.”

To stop an advert from appearing on a website, advertisers need only add the web address of the website to a dedicated page in their AdWords account.

“We just show advertisers where their money is being spent and let them make a decision as to whether to continue to do so,” the group said.

Stop Funding Fake News claim they have seen some successes with brands such as Sky, eBay, the World Wildlife Federation, Which?, Experian and Cancer McMillan Care.

Riley, who promoted the group’s numerous appeals on her timeline and contacted brands herself, described it as a “campaign aimed at making it less profitable to spread hate, racism, misogyny, antisemitism, Islamophobia and their bedmates.”

Only last week, Stop Funding Fake News persuaded Macmillan Cancer Care to pull an advert from The Canary.

An appeal for donations to the cancer charity was removed from an article rebuking former Labour MP Joan Ryan for denouncing antisemitism in the party at the AIPAC conference.

The news sparked a huge backlash on social media, with calls to boycott the presenter, causing the hashtag #BoycottRachelRiley to trend on Twitter.

Riley faced a barrage of criticism from readers and messages of support from prominent figures, with the Board of Deputies writing: “The  #BoycottRachelRiley hashtag tells you just about everything you need to know about these people.

“Racists and racism-apologists, attacking a Jewish woman for speaking out against antisemitism.”

The Jewish News understands that Sky will also remove adverts on political news stories across all websites, following calls from Riley for the telecoms company to stop advertising on Evolve Politics.

Despite their successes, the group have opted to remain anonymous. “We didn’t want the levels of hate that far braver people than ourselves have been subjected to,” they said.

“Secondly, the campaign isn’t about us. It will only work if enough people get involved, stand up for truth and tolerance, and start contacting organisations advertising on fake news websites,” they added.

  • To get involved, you can donate to group by searching for “Stop Funding Fake News” on or directly petitioning brands on social media.
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