Stop Funding Fake News (SFFN) is an informal organization which campaigns to remove advertisers from websites accused of circulating misleading and fabricated information. The organization began in February 2019, but was brought under the direction of the Center for Countering Digital Hate in May 2020.
SFFN was organized by individuals concerned by the success of the right-leaning cable outlet Fox News and Google’s largely ideology-blind advertising platform. SFFN’s website does not list any founders or current personnel. In June 2019, officials from SFFN told the Drum that their members wish to remain anonymous to avoid reprisal from the organizations they target.
Stop Funding Fake News organizes campaigns on Twitter to alert advertising platforms and the companies that use their services of alleged fake news or racist articles posted by websites which receive advertising revenue. Once a target is chosen, SFFN tweets to the advertising company and then urges all of its Twitter account followers to do the same. Companies and nonprofits that agree to blacklist the accused websites are then added to the SFFN’s “ethical advertisers list” and are promoted on the organization’s Twitter account.
Stop Funding Fake News launched a gofundme page on February 21, 2019, with the goal of raising £10,000 (about $12,000 USD). As of June 27, 2020, the page has raised £2,386 (slightly less than $3,000) from 70 donors.
In 2016, Leave.eu campaign co-founder Aaron Banks founded Westmonster, a right-of-center content aggregator site which has been likened to a British equivalent to America-based right-wing and nationalist news outlet Breitbart. In late 2019, Stop Funding Fake News targeted Westmonster and successfully convinced dozens of advertisers to abandon the site, forcing it to shut down later in the year. Despite SFFN’s website claiming that Westmonster was permanently disbanded, the site was established and continues to run as of June 2020.
The Canary is a left-wing independent media outlet founded in 2015. After accusations of antisemitism for defending comments made by then-Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and other left-wing politicians, the Canary was targeted by the SFFN in mid-2019, causing dozens of advertisers to pull their funding. The Canary countered with legal injunctions against SFFN to stop the campaign. In December, the British government’s independent advisor on anti-Semitism, John Mann, announced an investigation into The Canary due to public concerns raised by the SFFN. As a result of the loss of advertisers and the investigation, the Canary cut its staff by two-thirds.
In October 2019 during a speech in the House of Commons, then-Labour MP Mary Creagh demanded that Parliament cease advertising on websites that promote fake news and hate speech. Creagh attributed her discovery that Parliament was advertising tours on Breitbart to the SFFN, and advised the legislative body to commit to blacklisting “Breitbart, Evolve Politics, Rebel Media, The Canary, Politicalite, Dorset Eye, and Westmonster,” all of which had been targeted by SFFN.
In the wake of COVID-19, Stop Funding Fake News organized the #LiesCostLives campaign to target six websites accused of spreading misleading information regarding the outbreak: Zero Hedge, G News, Waking Times, Great Game India, Global Research, and Voice of Europe. As of late June, 51 companies and organizations had signed a boycott on advertising on these sites, including Dell, Squarespace, and the University of Chester.
Stop Funding Fake News has launched a campaign to defund right-of-center and right-wing media outlets which are critical of Black Lives Matter and the George Floyd protests. The blacklist contains ten organizations: Zero Hedge, Breitbart, the Federalist, Gateway Pundit, The Washington Standard, WND, Big League Politics, American Thinker, Moonbattery, and American Greatness. On June 16, SFFN Tweeted at nine major companies and organizations accusing them of hypocritically supporting BLM while advertising on one or more of the blacklisted sites. The targeted companies included Microsoft, Bloomberg, and Ford.