darkoshi: (Default)
This Is How Your Hyperpartisan Political News Gets Made - interesting to me because of this comment: The stories read like they were stamped out of the same content machine because they were. Using domain registration records and Google Analytics and AdSense IDs, BuzzFeed News determined that both sites are owned by American News LLC of Miami.

Google Analytics and AdSense IDs. So that is one way to link sites together, when their domain registration details are private/hidden.

I searched the page source of the 2 sites mentioned by the above articles, and found a section of script with an ID like UA-########-# (see below). This seems to be the Analytics ID. I've read that AdSense IDs start with "pub-", but I did not find that on those pages.

The 2 sites have different Analytics IDs. But doing a Google Search on them shows other sites using the same IDs. I presume that the number after the 2nd dash can identify multiple sites owned by the same publisher. So search without including the last number.

From LiberalSociety.com:
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
ga('create', 'UA-87513966-2', 'auto');
ga('send', 'pageview');

From conservative101.com:

Search results for the first number indicate that godtoday.com (as mentioned in the article) and democraticreview.com have the same owners.

I still don't know where one can find the AdSense IDs; maybe that is how they linked the 2 sites together, as the Analytics ID doesn't link them.
darkoshi: (Default)
The Secret Agenda of a Facebook Quiz - to get a profile of quiz takers, to be able to target them with political ads tailored to their individual concerns.
For several years, a data firm eventually hired by the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, has been using Facebook as a tool to build psychological profiles that represent some 230 million adult Americans. A spinoff of a British consulting company and sometime-defense contractor known for its counterterrorism “psy ops” work in Afghanistan, the firm does so by seeding the social network with personality quizzes.
One recent advertising product on Facebook is the so-called “dark post”: A newsfeed message seen by no one aside from the users being targeted. With the help of Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Trump’s digital team used dark posts to serve different ads to different potential voters, aiming to push the exact right buttons for the exact right people at the exact right times.
In this election, dark posts were used to try to suppress the African-American vote. According to Bloomberg, the Trump campaign sent ads reminding certain selected black voters of Hillary Clinton’s infamous “super predator” line. It targeted Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood with messages about the Clinton Foundation’s troubles in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
One day in August, [Trump's campaign] flooded the social network with 100,000 ad variations, so-called A/B testing on a biblical scale...

Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me’
Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire, has made his living off viral news hoaxes for several years.
"Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it."
"My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist."

Wikipedia now has an entry on fake news websites too - the page was launched on Nov 15, 2016.

How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study

The pro-Trump fake news website that’s finding an audience — with Trump’s help - (article from April 2016)

What was fake on the Internet this week: Why this is the final column - from the Washington Post, Dec. 15, 2015.
Frankly, this column wasn’t designed to address the current environment. This format doesn’t make sense. I’ve spoken to several researchers and academics about this lately, because it’s started to feel a little pointless. Walter Quattrociocchi, the head of the Laboratory of Computational Social Science at IMT Lucca in Italy, has spent several years studying how conspiracy theories and misinformation spread online, and he confirmed some of my fears: Essentially, he explained, institutional distrust is so high right now, and cognitive bias so strong always, that the people who fall for hoax news stories are frequently only interested in consuming information that conforms with their views — even when it’s demonstrably fake.
darkoshi: (Default)
Ever since learning of these conservative fake "news" websites, I've wondered about them. There are many other similar sites, not only the ones mentioned on that page. I wondered whether there were also liberal fake news websites, and it turns out there are.

Some of main things I wonder:
Who is behind these sites?
Are many of the sites owned by the same people? How many people are there behind these sites?
Are some of the conservative and liberal leaning sites both owned by the same people?
What do they hope to accomplish by spreading fake news?
Is the purpose of the sites simply to earn advertising revenue, or something more sinister?

Do they hope to gain certain candidates more votes and support?
Do they hope to incite anger or violence?
Do they hope to destroy democracy in the United States? (Putting aside the question as to how much of a democracy we have at present, and how fair/just/etc our society is)

The more such fake news sites proliferate, the harder it may become to find reliable news. It may cause us to question any news we read, even on sites that we think are reliable. How can we know if what we read and hear is really true? Without knowing what is true or fake, how can we make good decisions? How can we have a good democracy, if the people do not have good information?

It seems obvious that the stories on many of these sites are not trustworthy, simply by the style of writing. But it wouldn't be hard to write fake news in a more convincing style. How many of the more convincing stories that I read on other sites, may actually be fake or misleading too?

People don't have time to do research on everything they read, to determine if it is trustworthy or not. They rely on other people to do that for them. If you read something on a "real" news site, you trust that it is at least somewhat reliable. You have to trust somewhat. And if multiple "real" news sites report the same thing, you have to trust that they did some research on their own, and aren't just all repeating the same story from a single source.

There have been tabloid magazines for a long time, with questionable stories. But it seems to me those were always more focused on Hollywood celebrities, not on politicians and politics. But maybe this has been going on a long long time already, and I just never noticed it much before now.

Ahah. These articles were posted just recently about the phenomenon:

Can Facebook Solve Its Macedonian Fake-News Problem?

A lot of your fake Donald Trump news is coming from millennials in Veles, Macedonia

Yet that can't explain the "conservative daily post" website described in my first link. Surely people in Macedonia wouldn't be hiring Americans to write fake news stories at $15 per article. Unless it is a scam and the writers don't get paid.

The plague of fake news is getting worse -- here's how to protect yourself - Oct 30, 2016.

Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine - Aug 24, 2016.

Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate - Oct? 2016.
The bottom line is that people who regularly consume information from these pages — especially those on the right — are being fed false or misleading information.

The nature of the falsehoods is important to note. They often take the form of claims and accusations against people, companies, police, movements such as Black Lives Matter, Muslims, or "liberals" or "conservatives" as a whole. They drive division and polarization.

This is an older article about Russian-based misinformation programs:
The Agency - June 2015.
From a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, an army of well-paid "trolls" has tried to wreak havoc all around the Internet — and in real-life American communities.
darkoshi: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] mickeym found a Craigslist want-ad showing just how easy it is to pay people to produce misinformation these days. In this case, it is being done by a "news" site called "Conservative Daily Post".


Also, [livejournal.com profile] mickeym has a GoFundMe if anyone wants to help her out. (I feel I should post that, as it is the reason I came across her journal today, as it was linked to by someone else spreading the word).