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Macedonians peddle fake news to Americans

by on14 September 2017

Alexander the Great would be proud

A riverside town in the Republic of Macedonia has developed a new industry manufacturing fake news which is so bad that only  Americans can believe it.

Veles has become home to dozens of website operators who churn out bogus stories which are tailored to the undiscerning of America. Each click adds cash to their bank accounts.

More than 100 websites were tracked here during the final weeks of the 2016 US election campaign, producing fake news that mostly favoured Republican candidate for President, Donald Trump.

The industry's pioneer is a law school dropout a 24-year-old known only as Mikhail although he is better known as "Jesica", an American who frequently posts pro-Trump memes on Facebook.

The website and Facebook page that "Jesica" runs caters to conservative readers in the US and she peddles political where facts don’t matter.

Mikhail told CNN - itself branded a fake news outfit by Donald Trump - that he does not care if the fakes are true, only that people are reading it.

"At 22, I was earning more than someone [in Macedonia] will ever learn in his entire life."

He claims to have earned up to $2,500 a day from advertising on his website, while the average monthly income in Macedonia is just $426.

The profits come primarily from ad services such as Google's AdSense, which place targeted advertisements around the web. Each click sends a little bit of cash back to the content creator.

Mikhail says he has used his profits to buy a house and put his younger sister through school.  A few months ago his most successful site was shut down after Facebook and Google started cracking down on fake news sites.  Mikhail is now retooling his operation, with his sights set firmly on the 2020 presidential election.



Last modified on 14 September 2017
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