I've included an example below of the harm this garbage can do, in addition to affecting our election.http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fake-news-macedonia-teen-shows-how-its-done/
Dec. 2, 2016
On the second floor of a noisy sports center in the Macedonian town of Veles, a teenage purveyor of fake news cracked open his laptop and laid out his case for why lying is more lucrative than the truth.
Real news gets reported everywhere, he argued. Made-up stories are unique.
“The fake news is the good news,” the 18-year-old said, pointing to a graph showing his audience figures, which reached into the hundreds of thousands, a bling watch clasped firmly around his wrist. “A fake news article is way more opened than any other.”
BuzzFeed News identified Veles as a hub of the fake news industry seeding sensationalized or falsified information across Facebook. A reporter from Britain’s Channel 4 News chased the industry’s adolescent kingpins across town, cornering one 16-year-old fake news baron who said he had no plans to stop — even though he acknowledged it was wrong.
But there were no such qualms from the teenager who spoke to The Associated Press at Veles’ Gemdidzii Sports Hall.
Retreating from a spirited indoor soccer game into an empty office, he walked an AP journalist through the ins-and-outs of his fake news operation on condition that neither he nor his stable of bogus news sites would be identified, because otherwise that would hurt his business.
He showed the AP how he ripped much of his material off The Political Insider, a right-wing news site that produces a steady drumbeat of pro-Donald Trump pieces. He then flipped over to Google Analytics, an audience tracking tool, to show that he’d managed to gather more than 685,000 page views a week.
Using the web intelligence service Domain Tools, the AP confirmed that the teen is behind more than a dozen different websites, including knockoffs of well-known U.S. media outlets. Typical headlines include “Wow! Queen Elizabeth Invited Trump - This Is A Game Changer” or “BREAKING: What George Soros Just Did Will Leave You SICK!” Both pieces carried untrue or questionable assertions.
A simple Domain Tools search revealed roughly 200 U.S.-oriented news websites registered in Veles, most created within the last 12 months.
These sites tend to follow one of two patterns: Some masquerade as well-known outlets like The New York Times or Fox News, while others operate under made-in-America-sounding names like USA Daily News 24. That latter site’s lead story — “Michelle Obama DEMANDS Americans PAY UP To Give Her Mom A Cushy $160k Pension” — is entirely false.
For the residents of Veles, a Macedonian rust belt town of 50,000 people with shuttered factories and high unemployment, the thousands of dollars brought in by fake news operations aren’t necessarily unwelcome.
“They see it in a positive way,” said local journalist Petar Peckov. “They say, ‘The boys are working. There is money and we will benefit from it.’”
For everyone else on Facebook, Veles’ new cottage industry means a bewildering assault of misinformation and propaganda.
“Telling real from fake is difficult when people are intentionally trying to mask this from you,” said Robyn Caplan, a researcher at Data & Society, a New York-based institute that studies the cultural impact of technological change.
“The headlines that this Macedonian guy was using would have, could have been found a few years ago on something like — not in the same political sentiment — on Upworthy or on Elite Daily” she said in a telephone interview, referring to two websites that pioneered the viral news phenomenon. “They’re building off of practices that people have become really used to.”
The Macedonian teenager says he’s indifferent to politics. He sees it all as a money-making scheme, as well as a preparation for his career after high school, where he has been studying marketing and politics.
Shrugging off the handwringing over the ethics of fake news, he said the onus was on readers.
“They can read it if they want to,” he said. “I’m not the one pushing them to click on the article.”
[Example of the stupid stuff people can be led to believe. Seeing the stupid stuff my own Facebook friends fall for, this is not surprising, but is disheartening. And I'm supposed to believe humans are the best thing a force that created the universe could come up with?
Dec. 4, 2016
Late last month, Comet Ping Pong was the subject of a fake news report. It is unclear if the incident is related.
As CBS affiliate WUSA reported previously, using the hashtag #PizzaGate, an imaginary story about the popular pizza shop was spread, accusing it to be the center of a child sex slave ring organized by Hillary Clinton and her former campaign manager.
As a result, the pizza place was hammered by thousands of threats, and bizarre, unsubstantiated tales about child sex trafficking.
WUSA reported that they found two women, who declined to give their names, banging on the patio at the pizza place in late November. The women were looking for the alleged tunnels used to traffic children.
“All of this is an underground tunnel that helps take the kids and transport them back and forth so they can can do these rituals,” said one of them. “They are putting a lot of curses and spells over the city. They are kidnapping the children who are missing. They were never missing because D.C. know where they are.”
Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis said then that the restaurant does not even have a basement.
He said he suspected the story simply emerged because he and a friend supported the Clinton campaign.
“These people are destroying their lives,” said neighbor Maura Dougherty about the conspiracy theorists. “It’s insane.”
Before the latest incident, Comet Ping Pong’s owner told WUSA that the PizzaGate conspirators have also harassed and abused his staff. The manager got so many threats and vulgar messages, his wife asked him to quit his job. And the online bullies have gone after other businesses on the block as well.