If you’ve ever wondered why people run those garbage stories like ‘Trevor Noah is dead‘, there’s a pretty easy answer – money.
There was no shortage of fake news doing the rounds during the build-up to America’s 2016 elections, and other than Russia’s desire to see Trump elected it’s the money those clicks bring in that keeps the bollocks ticking along.
CNN have run an excellent graphic-laden story titled “The fake news machine – Inside a town gearing up for 2020“, and some facts and figures make for pretty astounding reading.
The town in question, Veles, is actually in Macedonia:
This sleepy riverside town in Macedonia is home to dozens of website operators who churn out bogus stories designed to attract the attention of Americans. Each click adds cash to their bank accounts.
The scale is industrial: Over 100 websites were tracked here during the final weeks of the 2016 U.S. election campaign, producing fake news that mostly favored [sic] Republican candidate for President Donald Trump.
Exactly how much bank are these fake news merchants making? Let’s look at a 24-year-old asked to be known only as Mikhail, for fear of having his online account shut down:
He takes on a different persona at night, prowling the internet as “Jesica,” an American who frequently posts pro-Trump memes on Facebook.
The website and Facebook page that “Jesica” runs caters to conservative readers in the U.S…
“I don’t care, because the people are reading,” he said. “At 22, I was earning more than someone [in Macedonia] will ever learn in his entire life.”
He claims to have earned up to $2,500 a day from advertising on his website, while the average monthly income in Macedonia is just $426.
The profits come primarily from ad services such as Google’s AdSense, which place targeted advertisements around the web. Each click sends a little bit of cash back to the content creator.
That’s right, he says he was earning close to six times the monthly income each and every day.
Thanks, morons who click share before they’ve done an iota of fact-checking, for helping to buy Mikhail a house and put his sister through school.
At the height of the 2016 election frenzy he actually had 15 employees, and his last website had 1,5 million Facebook followers. It has since been shut down, but he is planning to come back bigger and better in time for 2020 and Trump’s run at re-election.
Also making bank is ‘clickbait coach’ Mirko Ceselkoski, who spends his days teaching Macedonians how to boss the fake news game:
He tells his students they’ll earn at least €1,000 (R15 700) a month from their websites…
Ceselkoski [below] estimates that around 100 of his pupils are now operating U.S. political news sites.
He helps students make their websites look professional, mimicking legitimate sites with rolling tickers and “Breaking News” banners. They have used web addresses like usaelectionnews.com, everydaynews.us and trumpvision365.com…
Ceselkoski boasted that at least four of his students are millionaires, and many have bought expensive German cars — Porsches, Mercedes and BMWs. Others have invested in property.
The likes of Google and Facebook have now invested massive sums to fight the fake news scourge, although Mikhail remains confident that he will find a way around that.
Oh well, I suppose if the fake news gig ever dries up completely he could always get a job at Fox News.
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