Chasing the almighty dollar, Macedonians have once again become leaders in spreading false news about Trump
No one could have guessed that Macedonians would become a topic of heated conversation among the American media, especially not five days before the USA elections. To this day, most of the portals from Trump’s campaign are still active.
According to the popular website BuzzFeed, over 100 websites that are supporting Trump are based in Macedonia, Veles. Most of the news are not only fake but they are also in desperate need of a reality check. To top it off, most of the articles, if we could even call them that, are badly translated. At the end of August, Guardian reported that the number of websites rose to over 150, which for a city with about 44.000 citizens, is nothing but impressive.
One such website is Worldpoliticus.com. It is registered in OMNIS NETWORK LLC and its owner, according to Buzzfeed, is a minor from Veles. According to one of Worldpoliticus’ latest top news, Hillary Clinton is financially aiding ISIS, with a title: Your prayers have been answered”. To be fair, most of the news come from other USA web sites, which are then simply copy-pasted by most of the websites from Veles.
IT.mk tried to get in touch with the owner of the website, but, up to this point, has not received any reply.
The aim is to earn money and not to spread propaganda or show of support
The engine that drives young Macedonians to do what they do is the power behind technologies such as AdSense, Ad.Content, RevContent. With these programs, they earn revenue by actively trying to engage Facebook users or users from other social networks. USA Newsflash is a website with millions of visits. Its Facebook page had over 400.000 followers before it was shut down. Not an impressive number, especially when you take into consideration that this particular social network has over 2 billion users, but that doesn’t change the fact that USA Newsflash not only spread false news but it also managed to amass plenty of likes and visits with the help of the Facebook Ads program.
In an interview for Meta.mk, owners of numerous websites from Veles are saying how they only make money from ads program from Google. This was also confirmed by Buzzfeed.
“The economy in Macedonia is dreadful. Teenagers can’t work. I’m a musician, but have no money for the necessary equipment. In Macedonia, one, small website can get you the things you need.”
In the endless race for money and visits, a lot of entrepreneurs tried their luck with websites in favor of Bernie or some other candidates. Donald Trump, however, proved to be the goose that laid the golden eggs. Before you direct your anger to these so-called trump supporters, you need to be aware that their end-game is not political, but economic. Most of them wouldn’t know politics if it hit them in the face, let alone the dealings of international politicians. What they do understand is that USA has uncapped market for ad revenue and topics such as these are extremely popular.
“Yes, the news is false and misleading, but people will still click the links and become invested.”, claims one anonymous student from Veles, for Buzzfeed.
Due to the elections, even websites that are in favor of Hillary marked spiked interest, but when it comes to click baiting, the Trump train takes all the prizes.
It’s a widely-known fact that most of the young people in Kumanovo and Veles are part of a network and have websites that delve into topics such as healthy diet, politics or other trendy topics. By using the power of Facebook and other social networks they amass a huge following and target American visitors, since these are the people who are used to clicking ads. Some of the people make a nice chunk of money over the years. Of course, when it comes to earning cash in a short span of time, some shady people would even employ morally depraved tactics, but Google is usually on top of this and weeds out that particular bunch equally fast.
It all boils down to registering a domain, setting up a template, applying to be accepted on AdSense and publishing articles on the website. As for the quality of the content, well, you would be right to guess that some of it is simply copy-pasted and all of it is shared on the social network. Along the way, most of these profiteers have lost their moral compass and care not for respecting journalism or copyrights. The alternative would be losing money and that, for them, is a big no-no.
Facebook has been waging wars with websites such as these for a while and we are to expect significant changes in the algorithm. Still, one can’t help but notice how as soon as one scheme bites the dust, another one rises up and takes its place on the top. What else could Kairos Planet and OneCoin be, if not highly sophisticated pyramid schemes? But that’s a topic for another time.