The Chumboxes That Helped Alex Jones Stay in Business

Jones was left in a vulnerable position. In November of 2016 he uploaded a video titled "Alex Jones Final Statement on Sandy Hook" in which he tried to walk back some of his claims while doubling down on others, which was a good-faith question. It wasn't Jones's final statement on the matter, and he'd continue to spread the crisis actor hoax into 2017: all while the resistance against him was growing. Over the next few years, Jones and his site would face bans on virtually every major social media platform and a series of potentially financially devastating defamation lawsuits brought in Texas and Connecticut by relatives of victims of the massacre he would eventually lose in default judgments.

Jones relied on Revcontent, one of the biggest web advertising services that specialize in shoving link modules (often called "chumboxes") into sites across the internet, for his financial sustenance until the year of 2019.

Revcontent's compliance team received complaints that Infowars was violating its policies against "fake news" in January of last year. The policy clearly states that publishers cannot promote content that is false or meant to deceive a consumer.

Gizmodo obtained two emails showing how Revcontent managers apologized to Mark Bankston, an attorney from the Farrar & Ball law firm. Bankston obtained the documents through the discovery process while he was representing the Sandy Hook victims.

The compliance team at Revcontent sent an email to Timothy Fruge, the business operations manager of Free Speech Systems, that stated that a number of articles on Infowars may be in violation of the policy. In order to stay on Revcontent's network, Infowars would need to either document the editorial process by which the articles were created, revise them, or remove them.

One of those posts was a supposedly final statement from Jones. The video was deleted from the website, but transcripts show that Jones continued his claims of a cover-up, that one of the fathers of the victims was laughing and joking, and that CNN and other outlets had staged. He said that he has watched a lot of soap operas and seen actors before. I know when I watch a movie and when I watch something real. Let's look at Sandy Hook.

In one of the flagged posts, Jones pointed out that there was evidence of a conspiracy at Sandy Hook and said, "I mean, it's fake." I don't know what happened. The haunted house and ghosts are not real, like if you saw a hologram at Disney World. The mass shooting was a project of the gun-grabbers, he claims in the video.

Someone at Revcontent personally apologized to Infowars for suggesting their content was bullshit, even though the compliance team had decided against it. In an email dated later that afternoon, senior business development manager (now listed as vice president of business development on LinkedIn) Matt Hoy claimed the team had made an "error" and Revcontent had summoned its lawyers to explain to the staffers their original determination "goes against everything we believe." Hoy reassured Fruge that the conspiracy content was okay.

Hey Tim.
I am having our legal team speak with the compliance team because they sent this out in error. We speak openly about this in the media. There is no problem with the content or payments.
I am sorry for the email, but we are taking measures to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The co- founder of the Check My Ads Institute said that anyone who brings up free speech in the debates is missing the point.

Adtech companies have the same responsibility as any other company, according to Atkin. They are expected to uphold their own standards.

When it was a client of Revcontent, InfoWars acted as a publisher on the Revcontent network. It had a pretty good deal in that spot. Jones would put one of those modules under the articles about Hillary Clinton being a mass murderer and wait for people to visit his site to click on those stories and get sucked in. It is worth assuming that this was a typical clickbait list about celebrities and anti-aging tips that don't work, since we don't use the Revcontent modules anymore.

Advertisers pay a certain amount of money to have their listicles and blogs featured in Revcontent's modules, and those payouts happen when someone clicks on one of those boxes.

The company distinguishes itself from other companies by giving publishers more bang for their buck. Revcontent claims to only take 20% of what an advertiser pays per click, meaning that its publisher partners rake in 80% of whatever cash an advertiser throws down.

Revcontent said that it ended its relationship with Infowars after a change in management, and that it replaced its former CEO with a new one.

A representative from Revcontent wrote to Gizmodo saying that the email you sent did not reflect the culture or priorities of the company since a leadership change in the year 2000. Revcontent will not work with Infowars in the future, and is not aware of its service being used to monetize Mr. Jones' content on any other platform.

There are plenty of other questionable outlets that are still being paid out by Revcontent. is a site that uses the company's chumboxes to monetize. LiveLeak only stopped using their modules in April, whileRT used them until August.

Revcontent was very proud of its relationship with conservative sites as recently as the year 2017. Revcontent was mentioned as a company that worked across the spectrum of political media in an article about the monetization tricks for far-right sites. The article noted that Conservative audiences drove more activity.

2.5 million readers from right-wing media sites clicked on immigration-related stories last year, while the top liberal news topic was gun control and 350,000 visitors to stories on the issue. The ninth most-trafficked issue for right-wing news, LGBTQ stories, generated 900,000 clicks in the same period.

Revcontent would seek out relationships where its competitors shied away because it means more money for the company. Revcontent backpedaled from this approach after Adexchanger published an article about the "Truth in Media Initiative." According to a report in 2017, Revcontent's content ad module was present on 22 of the top 100 most popular fake news sites. Outbrain and Taboola had more in common with that. Many of the sites were cleared to use Revcontent's ad tools.

Taboola told a newspaper in February of last year that it was taking action to prevent it from doing business with Jones after he spread conspiracy theories about the school shooting in Florida. Revcontent had an arrangement with Infowars that they had yet to be given any links that violated their editorial process.

Revcontent said it would work with independent fact-checkers to clear out misinformation from its network. While Revcontent appears to be steering clear of associations with the main Infowars website, Check My Ads found that Revcontent ads are still helping to monetize content featuring Jones on other parts of the right-wing web.

One of the ad networks that compete for and appear on videos across the Rumble is Revcontent, which promotes conspiracy theories like "Bill Gates depopulation control agenda" and "Truth About Qanon and Trump!" The military is in total control. Do not fear.

The videos uploaded by Jones's official account on Rumble don't appear to have these chumboxes, but Revcontent's ads still appear below other videos that feature Jones. The videos in question are now served up with pre-roll ads, according to a search on Dec. 9.

Neither Infowars nor Rumble responded to the request for comment. Revcontent said that it was unaware of helping to monetize Alex Jones content on other platforms. Last week, a user noticed that a reference to Infowars had been removed from its database.

She told Gizmodo that she was not surprised to see a company like Revcontent actively pursuing these types of relationships.

Jones has continued to get worse.

The defamation lawsuits over the Sandy Hook case aren't the end of his legal troubles, as a recent Vice piece noted, he is still facing a separate defamation suit brought by Brennan Gilmore, the man who videotaped the death of protester Heather Heyer and the injury of scores of others at the Jones has been issued a congressional subpoena to explain his role in the Capitol insurrection. In the meantime, Vice wrote, Jones appears to be trying to maintain relevance by shifting to a more New Age-y and presumably less legally risky type of conspiracism, such as a new Infowars show called Reset Wars starring a hypnotist that Jones promises will help viewers.