Facebook’s the primary news gateway for a lot of Americans. And while most people on it know it's a haven for fake news, we may be getting gamed by those sites more than we realize.
For example, a recent BuzzFeed investigation found a Florida connection to one of the most prolific fake news generators. America News LLC, based in a modest ranch-style home in Miami-Dade County, owns at least four websites.
Two of the sites are ultra-liberal, while the other two are super conservative, said Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
“The news they create looks incredibly similar, and all of it is fake,” she said.
And what’s surprising is that they all are hyper-partisan using stories that are nearly identical – albeit with a few select word choice changes. For example, a recent story on Kellyanne Conway, one of President Donald Trump's top advisors, featured nearly identical headlines, sentences and quotes while they portrayed left and right ideologies.
“We expected them to pick one (political side) or the other and put all their eggs in that basket,” McBride said.
An interesting aspect of these media sites, McBride said, is that they are using social media as the primary source of sharing the fake news. McBride said the company’s conservative Facebook page – The Patriot Review – has more than 5 million fans. Its ideological opposite – Liberal Daily – includes a following of about 2 million on Facebook.
“They get a huge amount of audience and then they sell advertising against that audience through ad networks,” she said. “They don’t have an ad department that goes out and sells advertising. They sign up for a distributed ad network. But because they can amass so much audience, they can make a lot of money without much overhead. I bet there are three or four people writing all of these articles.”