10 Fascinating Facts About Alternative Facts
There is nothing new about “alternative facts.” Humans are tribal creatures that place illogical trust in authorities, source news to fit our views, and hold irrational ideas if they are part our identity. Social media and a fiercely divided press have ushered in an age of anti-intellectualism. Fortunately, research has shown that anyone can be inoculated to alternative facts. However, for the time being, the truth remains elusive.
10Macedonia’s Fake News Gold Rush
In 2016, the Macedonian town of Veles experienced a digital gold rush. Over 140 US-centric political sites emerged from this Balkan city. Most are aggressively pro-Trump and pump out material for the US conservative market. The largest of these sites has hundreds of thousands of followers. Website owners revealed to BuzzFeed that the best way to generate traffic is to publish “sensationalist and often false content that caters towards Trump supporters.”
The goal has nothing to do with the truth. “If it gets the people to click on it and engage, then use it.” Almost all of the stories are aggregated or stolen from fringe US sources. Occasionally they add clickbait headlines. According to Facebook earning reports, a US user is worth four times as much as any other user. The revenue from US display advertising, which often amounts to a fraction of a penny for a click, goes far in the former Yugoslav Republic.