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Posted 12 June 2018 - 05:45 PM
Why Does Fake News Exist? A Look Inside A Highly Lucrative Business
To understand fake news, we must understand the cast of characters:
1) The Creators
2) The Enablers
3) The Establishment
Let’s discuss each one of them in more detail. I’ll also touch upon how money is made.
The Creators Of Fake News
There are two main creators of fake news. The most egregious creator comes from non-journalists who put out spammy garbage you see on the web that’s simply untrue. The second creator of fake news is not so much fake news, but biased news coming from journalists with an agenda. Biased news isn’t as egregious since we all have our biases that are hard to extricate from our actions. However, biased journalists can do greater damage due to their large platforms.
Why does fake news exist? Is it because people have nothing better to do with their time? Or maybe it’s because people are all serious trolls on the internet? Maybe.
The main reason why fake news exists is simply due to the desire for MONEY, lots of it! Once you follow the money, everything becomes much clearer.
The #1 goal of every fake news creator is to get as many impressionable readers to click on their fake news articles as possible. More clicks means more advertising revenue.
Clickbait titles are very important because fake news creators cannot compete on substance. None of their articles will ever rank well on search (Google, Bing, Duckduckgo, etc) because most of their content is very thin and filled with grammatical errors on topics that are very ephemeral e.g. Southern California Floods Sweep Away Neverland Ranch, Revealing Michael Jackson Is Still Alive!
The average fake news article might contain 250 words of gibberish, whereas the average article on Financial Samurai tends to be more evergreen with well over 1,200 words, complemented with charts and graphs. Due to the way search engines work, a fake news article would unlikely ever rank above an article I write about on the same topic. If it did, the search engine would be discredited and eventually lose a ton of money themselves.
Fake news creators are paid generally in the range of $1 – $10 per 1,000 impressions. Therefore, if a fake news creator can get 1,000,000 impressions a month, his website stands to earn $1,000 – $10,000 a month. If you’re a fake news teen earning $10,000 a month living in Macedonia, you’re crushing it because the Macedonia GDP per capita is less than $5,000. That’s like making $960,000 a year here in the U.S.!
To provide some perspective, only about 5% of Financial Samurai’s total revenue comes from click ads and banner ads compared to 100% of revenue for fake news sites. My business model is about creating direct long-term partnerships with companies I believe will create value for everyone.
he Enablers Of Fake News
So how do spammy garbage sites exist on the web if they can’t rank well in search?
The first reason is due to low barriers to entry. Anybody can start a website for less than $50 a year nowadays and compete with the Yahoos, the Forbes, The New York Times, and the Googles of the world. WordPress and other platforms make it easy to create good looking sites that used to cost tens of thousands to create. Chances of creating a reputable website off of fake news are low, but so is the opportunity cost.
Before I started Financial Samurai, I clearly remember thinking it would be relatively easy to create a reputable personal finance site because I was reading so much garbage on the web by authors who had minimal to no financial background or experience. Circa 2008 there was a NYT bestseller by Ramit Sethi called, “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” at Barnes & Noble by a recent college grad with no job. I thought to myself, America is awesome because anything is possible! What I’ve learned since meeting Ramit, who readily admits the book’s title is spammy, is that it’s all about marketing.
The second reason why fake news exists is due to the enablers. More specifically: Facebook.
Facebook has almost two billion mindless users each day who waste about an hour of their lives on their platform. Facebook is the largest, most engaged social media platform in the world. Fake news creators know that people who spend lots of time on Facebook are often lonely, highly impressionable people who are looking for validation and a way out of their misery. Since misery loves company, negative fake news does very well.
Why does Facebook enable so much garbage in everybody’s news feed? Money, money, and more MONEY! Facebook spent years trying to convince companies to build likes on their Facebook page. The assumption was, the more likes your company page has, the more easily you can “organically” reach your target consumer. Then Facebook changed the rules after companies spent billions of dollars trying to get consumers to like their pages. They told companies they now had to also pay to get the people who liked their pages to see what they posted! Talk about luring your customers in and beating them with a stick.
Facebook is currently worth roughly $385 billion because they earn over $30 billion in advertising revenue a year. Some have estimated Facebook earns roughly half of their revenue from fake news advertising. But let’s say they earn just 10% of their revenue from fake news. That’s still $3 billion in revenue Facebook doesn’t want to lose, especially since Zuckerberg is worth ~$55B alone.
Lee Camp: How to Write Propaganda for the NY Times
This past Thursday the New York Times vomited up a hit piece on little ol’ me – a guy who has been doing stand-up comedy for nearly 20 years and thought maybe that comedy could be used to inform and inspire audiences, rather than just make fun of the differences between men and women.
At first when you’re the center of a smear job, you’re annoyed and frustrated. But as I read further through the piece, I realized it was a master class in how to write propaganda for one of the most “respected” news outlets in our country. I’m actually grateful it was written about me because now I can see with my own eyes exactly how the glorious chicanery is done. I count no less than 15 lies, manipulations, and false implications in this short article, a score that even our fearless prevaricator-in-chief Donald Trump would envy.
So here now is a “How To” for writing propaganda for the New York Times – using the smear piece against me as an example.
Step One: Prime the Readers
Step Two: Guilt by Association
Step Three: Write Off Good Attributes That Don’t Fit the Storyline
Step Four: It’s What the Person Doesn’t Say That Really Matters
Step Five: Fuck It, Insult the Guy’s Looks
Step Six: Trot Out Discredited Neocon Think-Tank-Backed Source
Step Seven: Lie
Final Step: Leave the Reader With the Same (False) Prime You Started With
So the next time you’re reading so-called journalism in the New York Times, remember… context matters.
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