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What We’ve Learned About Fake News

Fake News Headlines with Trump in the background.

DNY59/iStock; Evan Vucci/AP

Fake News Headlines with Trump in the background.

Zach Oestreich, Writer

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Fake news has spread rampantly through all sites on the Internet, showing up as ads or being shared by people who have read the fake news and want to show it to others. However, a writer managed to get the help of a tech expert in tracking down a fake news creator and managed to get an interview set up with the creator to learn more about fake news and what he does to make it successful.

It all started off with an article published with the title “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide”. Supposedly, the FBI agent had killed his wife before setting the house on fire and then pointing a gun to his head and killing himself. He had apparently been investigating  a private email server that Hillary Clinton had been using when those actions occurred. However, no matter how gruesome it may seem, the story is completely false. None of these events had occurred and it was all fake. It was written by an anonymous source on Denverguardian.com, but that is all that there is on the site. It had the looks of a normal newspaper, but the story was the only story on the website. Writer Laura Sydell decided she wanted to track down the creator of this fake news and enlisted the help of

John Jansen, head of engineering at Master-McNeil Inc. in Berkeley, California. With the help of Jansen, they managed to track down an email address and found a name for the creator of the Denverguardian.com as well as other fake news sites. The name of the creator is Jestin Coler, and Sydell managed to set up and interview with him to learn more about fake news.

Coler is the listed founder and CEO of a company called Disinfomedia, a site where they publish false or fictional stories and then announce that the stories were completely fake in order to show the public that they were false stories. He is also the owner of several other fake news sites, such as NationalReport.net. For most of the sites, he has between 20 to 25 writers working on fake stories all over the country. Depending on the nature of these articles, they could attract a lot of attention and bring in lots of money just by people viewing the ads that they put up to spread their articles. When Coler published the FBI-Hillary article and dropped it into a couple of Trump supporter sites or forum sites, this caused a ton of money to flow into his company. According to Coler, “This one kind of took off more than others, I believe, just because of the nature of the story. The people wanted to hear about this.” It seems as though it is mostly the nature of the story that grabs the attention of certain crowds and brings in money. Although the fake news business might seem like a good business to be getting into, it isn’t very safe for those who are already a part of it. Coler himself has received many death threats and even considers the crowd that he baits in with the articles as domestic terrorists. So, unless you want these kinds of people right on your doorstep, that is probably a good reason to not start a fake news business. However, Coler has adamantly told Sydell that the fake news he is creating is not about the money. He wanted to show how easily fake news spreads throughout everywhere. Yet with the amount of money being raked in due to the articles, it was a good motivator to continue with the business.

Thanks to Sydell, we’ve have gathered a greater amount of knowledge about fake news and what the creators of the news do to target the perfect audience to draw in money. Hopefully, in the coming future, we figure out better ways to discover fake articles to prevent there from being lies spread to the people.

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What We’ve Learned About Fake News