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The Macedonian Fake News Factory

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Veles is a small city of around 50,000 located in the central hills of the Republic of Macedonia. Until recently the city laid claim to being the second most polluted region in the ex-Yugoslavia. Once home to a famed ceramic factory, Veles is now host to a different type of manufacturer, one that fabricates fake news. In 2016, Veles hit the headlines following the discovery that a small group of teenagers was behind over 100 websites supporting U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and filled with sensational rumor and completely fake news. Through active promotion on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the sites raked in significant revenues for their young founders. Importantly, these fake news sites, and others, may have also influenced the result of the U.S. election.

I urge you to read more about this fascinating and unnerving story over at Wired.

From Wired:

The first article about Donald Trump that Boris ever published described how, during a campaign rally in North Carolina, the candidate slapped a man in the audience for disagreeing with him. This never happened, of course. Boris had found the article somewhere online, and he needed to feed his web­site, Daily Interesting Things, so he appropriated the text, down to its last mis­begotten comma. He posted the link on Facebook, seeding it within various groups devoted to American politics; to his astonish­ment, it was shared around 800 times. That month—February 2016—Boris made more than $150 off the Google ads on his website. Considering this to be the best possible use of his time, he stopped going to high school.

Image courtesy of: Македонец at Macedonian Wikipedia.