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Category Archives: Securities Law

How Google’s Ad Business Funds Disinformation Around the World

Pro Publica: “In one instance, Google continued to place ads on a publication in Bosnia and Herzegovina for months after the U.S. government officially imposed sanctions on the site. Google stopped doing business with the site, which the U.S. Treasury Department described as the “personal media station” of a prominent Bosnian Serb separatist politician, only after being contacted by ProPublica. Google ads are a major source of revenue for sites that spread election disinformation in Brazil, notably false claims about the integrity of the voting system that have been advanced by the incumbent president, Jair Bolsonaro. Voters in Brazil are going to the polls on Sunday with the outcome in doubt after Bolsonaro’s unexpectedly strong showing in the first round of voting. The investigation also revealed that Google routinely places ads on sites pushing falsehoods about COVID-19 and climate change in French-, German- and Spanish-speaking countries. The resulting ad revenue is potentially worth millions of dollars to the people and groups running these and other unreliable sites — while also making money for Google. Platforms such as Facebook have faced stark criticism for failures to crack down on disinformation spread by people and governments on their platforms around the world. But Google hasn’t faced the same scrutiny for how its roughly $200 billion in annual ad sales provides essential funding for non-English-language websites that misinform and harm the public. Google’s publicly announced policies bar the placement of ads on content that makes unreliable or harmful claims on a range of issues, including health, climate, elections and democracy. Yet the investigation found Google regularly places ads, including those from major brands, on articles that appear to violate its own policy. ProPublica’s examination showed that ads from Google are more likely to appear on misleading articles and websites that are in languages other than English, and that Google profits from advertising that appears next to false stories on subjects not explicitly addressed in its policy, including crime, politics, and such conspiracy theories as chemtrails. A former Google leader who worked on trust and safety issues acknowledged that the company focuses heavily on English-language enforcement and is weaker across other languages and smaller markets. They told ProPublica it’s because Google invests in oversight based on three key concerns. “The number one is bad PR — they are very sensitive to that. The second one is trying to avoid regulatory scrutiny or potentially regulatory action that could impact their business. And number three is revenue,” said the former leader, who agreed to speak on the condition that their name not be used in order not to hurt their business and career prospects. “For all these three, English-speaking markets primarily have the biggest impact. And that’s why most of the efforts are going into those.”

ProPublica used data provided by fact-checking newsrooms, researchers and website monitoring organizations to scan more than 13,000 active article pages from thousands of websites in more than half a dozen languages to determine whether they were currently earning ad revenue with Google. (To read a detailed breakdown of how ProPublica obtained and analyzed the data, see this accompanying article.) The analysis found that Google placed ads on 41% of roughly 800 active online articles rated by members of the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network as publishing false claims about COVID-19. The company also served ads on 20% of articles about climate change that Science Feedback, an IFCN-accredited fact-checking organization, has rated false.

6 Mac Browsers You Should Try for Better Productivity

MakeUseOf: “Almost every popular web browser nowadays is powerful enough to help you get things done. Safari, the web browser built into macOS, is no exception. You can also consider options like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox if you need better extensions. But, in the end, Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox are general-purpose web browsers.… Continue Reading

DOJ and SEC Investigating FTX Collapse as Entire Crypto Market Plunges

Gizmodo: “The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating FTX, a crypto platform that halted withdrawals on Tuesday, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. And while the SEC’s investigation has reportedly been going “for months,” the agency’s scrutiny has only expanded this week following the liquidity crisis at… Continue Reading

More Than Half Of All Bitcoin Trades Are Fake

Forbes Digital Assests – “A new Forbes analysis of 157 crypto exchanges finds that 51% of the daily bitcoin trading volume being reported is likely bogus. Within the emerging and turbulent market for cryptocurrencies, where there are no fewer than 10,000 tokens, bitcoin, is the great granddaddy, the blue-chip, representing 40% of the $1 trillion… Continue Reading

The Future of Corporate Criminal Liability: Watching the ESG Space

Nelson, J.S. (Josephine Sandler), The Future of Corporate Criminal Liability: Watching the ESG Space (January 15, 2022). J.S. Nelson, The Future of Corporate Criminal Liability: Watching the ESG Space, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4057736 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4057736 “The future of corporate criminal liability in the U.S. and around the world may be for failure to adequately act… Continue Reading

CRS – How Treasury Issues Debt

How Treasury Issues Debt, Updated June 14, 2022 [21 pages]: “The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), among other roles, manages the country’s debt. The primary objective of Treasury’s debt management strategy is to finance the government’s borrowing needs at the lowest cost over time. To accomplish this Treasury adheres to three principles: (1) to… Continue Reading

A wild new court decision would blow up much of the government’s ability to operate

Vox: “The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued yet another astonishing decision on Wednesday. Jarkesy v. SEC seeks to dismantle much of the system the federal government uses to enforce longstanding laws and to determine who is eligible for federal benefits. And it does so in defiance of numerous Supreme Court… Continue Reading

Overview of the SEC Climate Risk Disclosure Proposed Rule

CRS Insight: Overview of the SEC Climate Risk Disclosure Proposed Rule, May 17, 2022 “On March 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-1 to issue sweeping proposed climate-related disclosure rules for public companies. In issuing the proposed rules, the SEC cited its existing statutory authorities under the federal securities laws— specifically, the… Continue Reading

Coding and Collaboration: Data Analytics in the Law School Classroom

Alexander, Charlotte and Iannarone, Nicole G., Coding and Collaboration: Data Analytics in the Law School Classroom (June 2021). Forthcoming, Transactions: Tennessee Journal of Business Law, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3965047 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3965047 “Technological advances provide opportunities for lawyers to deliver sophisticated – and cost effective – legal advice. A basic understanding of the emerging field of… Continue Reading

A 2011 dictionary is reshaping the language of corporate reporting

Quartz – “A new corporate principle is: Never say you’re restating anything. The machines will hold it against you. Over the past decade, “restatement” is the word companies have most strenuously tried to avoid in the text of their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to an upcoming paper by academics at Georgia… Continue Reading