The term ‘fake news’ has been thrown around a lot lately. But it turns out fake news is actually a real legitimate issue (not just an excuse Trump uses). Fake news is like click bait, but with one important difference – it actually looks real!
Clickbait are those headlines that just make you LOL with titles like ’10 Celebrity Members of the Illuminati’ or ‘Proof Obama Was Born In Kenya’. Fake news headlines appear deceptively more realistic despite being just as untrue.
The US election and Trump’s following presidency have been an easy target with fake news headlines such as ‘Pope Francis Endorses Trump For Presidency’, ‘Wiki Leaks Confirms Hilary Sold Weapons to ISIS’ and of course the ever-ridiculous ‘Pizza Gate’ conspiracy theories.
But who was working on these headlines? The Russian government? Trump supporters? Believe it or not, it was actually teenagers working from their bedrooms in Macedonia. Fake news caused a great deal of political disturbance and earned these teens some serious coin by driving thousands of gullible Americans to their fake news websites, traffic which was rewarded handsomely by automated advertising engines.
Mirko Ceselkoski was the leader of the pack when it came to fake news phenomenon in Macedonia. He started with around 8 websites with topics ranging from muscle cars to celebrities, all specifically targeting American readers.
Why Americans? Because an American reader is roughly three times more valuable than a non-American one.
He then created and shared around 4 fake news links a day, all leading traffic to these sites. Each link would be shared thousands of times on different news platforms earning Ceselkoski a casual $1,000 a month.
There’s a real moral dilemma involved with fake news. On one part it’s a great way for advertisers to guarantee considerable traffic. On the other part it can actually cause real issues when credible news outlets take hold of the stories and run them as legitimate facts to the general public. In fact, many analysts believe that the stories coming out of Macedonia had some influence on the result of the US election.
What do you think of the fake news? Have you fallen for the headlines?