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How to become a successful temporary blogger while Fueling an International Boom in Pro-Trump Propaganda (en/fr)

Last week, BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman & Lawrence Alexander reported on a bizarre and booming cottage industry that has sprung up in a single industrial town in the Balkans:

BuzzFeed News identified more than 100 pro-Trump websites being run from a single town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Sites as WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com make money through sharing in Facebook ad revenue.

“This is the news of the millennium!” said the story on WorldPoliticus.com. Citing unnamed FBI sources, it claimed Hillary Clinton will be indicted in 2017 for crimes related to her email scandal.

“Your Prayers Have Been Answered,” declared the headline.

For Trump supporters, that certainly seemed to be the case. They helped the baseless story generate over 140,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. Some come with Facebook pages with hundreds of thousands of followers. One student in Veles told the site he can earn up to $3,000 a day spreading pro-Trump clickbait which often gets more shares and other interactions than genuine news reports.

Over the past year, the Macedonian town of Veles (population 45,000) has experienced a digital gold rush as locals launched at least 140 US politics websites. These sites have American-sounding domain names such as WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com. They almost all publish aggressively pro-Trump content aimed at conservatives and Trump supporters in the US

These sites plagiarize or aggregate stories, both real and fake, from right-wing U.S. sites, then slap provocative headlines on them and post them to Facebook. Some of the most popular stories, Silverman reports, include false claims that the pope endorsed Trump, that Gov. Mike Pence called Michelle Obama “the most vulgar first lady we’ve ever had,” and that Hillary Clinton will be indicted for her use of a private email server. These stories garnered far more engagement on Facebook than legitimate investigative stories from the likes of the New York Times.

The young Macedonians who run these sites say they don’t care about Donald Trump. They are responding to straightforward economic incentives: As Facebook regularly reveals in earnings reports, a US Facebook user is worth about four times a user outside the US. The fraction-of-a-penny-per-click of US display advertising — a declining market for American publishers — goes a long way in Veles. Several teens and young men who run these sites told BuzzFeed News that they learned the best way to generate traffic is to get their politics stories to spread on Facebook — and the best way to generate shares on Facebook is to publish sensationalist and often false content that caters to Trump supporters.

According to the report, the sites experimented with left-wing conspiracy theories, but these did not generate as much interest as those with a right-wing angle.

However, this is a truly post-truth politics.

FRançais

Quand le n’importe quoi mène la danse: En ARYM (Macedoine), le blogging est une machine à cash pour des sites d’info publiant des articles mensongers et de propagande pour Donald Trump.

Le site américain BuzzFeed a enquêté sur la façon dont les habitants d’une petite ville de Macédoine s’enrichissent grâce à Donald Trump.

Il se trouve que plus d’une centaine de sites web pro-Trump sont enregistrés à Veles, petite bourgade du centre de la Macédoine, à 8000 kilomètres de New York. Des sites avec des noms bien américains : USADailyPolitics.com, ou DonaldTrumpNews.com.

D’après l’enquête de Buzzfeed, tous ces sites sont créés et gérés par des adolescents de la ville qui ont trouvé là une poule aux œufs d’or et se sont passé le mot : plus il y a de clics sur leurs sites, plus leurs articles sont partagés, plus ils gagnent d’argent avec la publicité en ligne. Ça peut aller jusqu’à 3.000 dollars par jour, l’info pro-Trump ça marche du tonnerre parce que ces sites comblent un vide. Ils ont des audiences de centaines de milliers de personnes. Le problème c’est que pour faire du buzz, il faut faire du sensationnel, de la théorie du complot, quitte à raconter n’importe quoi.

Par exemple, le site worldpoliticus.com annonce triomphant : “Clinton va être inculpée pour crimes dans l’affaire de ses emails”, citant des sources au FBI. C’est bidon, mais ça marche : 140.000 vues sur Facebook. Un autre site a fait un carton avec cette fausse info : “le Pape soutient Trump”.

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