I bet that title was pretty intriguing, you probably clicked on it thinking this article would teach you how to make money. Looks like you fell for the clickbait. It said not clickbait in the title? It’s 2017. We all know that if the article doesn’t have a clickbait title no one will read it. However, this post will show you what fake news is, how clickbait works, and how people make money writing fake news. Moreover, this article will prove that fake news can create real money.
Fake news, false news, or whatever you want to call it, is everywhere right now. I don’t mean to say that everything is fake news, but everyone is being made highly aware that it is out there, especially if you paid any attention to the 2016 US presidential election. But what is fake news? Well if you are Donald Trump, fake news seems to be any story that views you in a negative light. According to Penn State University’s library fake news is:
“Sources that intentionally fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports”, (Novotny, 2017).
Now this type of content is different than satire, rumour mills, and junk science but it does often use clickbait. Unfortunately for creators of fake news, clickbait titles aren’t enough to spread fake news. One of the huge ways that fake news is spread is through automated accounts or “bots,” (arXiv, 2017). This is very scary because without direct intervention from sites like Facebook and Twitter people can create thousands of these accounts and manipulate algorithms to spread their fake news. The people creating these bots are smart, they are designing them to direct the fake news tweets/posts at influential users, (arXiv, 2017). This is concerning because influential users can create real momentum if they share what the bots are feeding them. This would then result in their huge followings receiving the fake news. A real example of this is a story that ran on a website called the “Christian Times Newspaper.” It used the momentum of an idea Donald Trump mentioned when he said he was afraid the election would be rigged for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US Presidential election. The website then ran a fake story about how tens of thousands of fake Hillary Clinton ballets were found in a house in Columbus. This story reached approximately six million people, (Berman, 2017). This is an example of the scary power fake news holds. In sum, fake news is created; it is shared by bot accounts on social media, and then is shared to a plethora of influential users that create real buzz around the articles. This is how fake news is spread.
The big question is how do people make money from spreading fake news? Two ways that fake news websites make money are through advertising networks and posting sponsored content, (Gillin, 2017). Firstly, looking at advertising networks, people can connect their websites to third party advertisers who will pay the user a fraction of a cent per click, (Gillin, 2017). Obviously a fraction of a cent is not much money, but if you multiply that by hundreds of thousands of times people can make some serious money. Secondly, people use sponsored content to make money for their websites. This method works similarly to the first method. Instead it uses advertisements that are designed to look like real articles, (Gillin, 2017). For example, if you see a post titled something like, “this new soap will blow your mind,” and then you click it to read information about some soap product and want to buy it. That is sponsored content. Adding to the example above about the fake news that there were tens of thousands of fake Hillary ballots ready to be used in the 2016 US Presidential election, the man who created that website made roughly $22,000 from that post and other various hoaxes. Not only that, but his website at one point was worth $125,000, (Berman, 2017). To sum up, people have been able to monetize their fake news websites to make real money from advertising in the form of advertising networks and sponsored content.
In conclusion, fake news is apparent and is being spread to us like wildfire. The use of clickbait and automated social media accounts to spread it has significantly affected people’s lives. People have been able to set up fake websites, write fake news, and monetize that content to make actual money. The era of fake news has hit us hard since the 2016 US Presidential election and is unlikely to be curbed until major changes continue to be made by the social platforms that share it. Now you know that fake news can make real money.
arXiv. (2017). First evidence that social bots play a major role in spreading fake news. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608561/first-evidence-that-social-bots-play-a-major-role-in-spreading-fake-news/
Berman, N. (2017). The victims of fake news. Columbia Journalism Review, 56(2), 60-67. Retrieved from http://proxy.lib.sfu.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=125432045&site=ehost-live
Gillin, J. (2017). The more outrageous, the better: How clickbait ads make money for fake news sites. Retrieved from http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/article/2017/oct/04/more-outrageous-better-how-clickbait-ads-make-mone/
Novotny, E. (2017). “Fake” news. Retrieved from http://guides.libraries.psu.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/fakenews