Hackers and ideologues are using Facebook to profit off outrage.
An analysis of 667 websites and 452 associated Facebook pages reveals how they leverage American’s divisive digital discussions to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
In 2016, 187 new partisan websites launched to cash in on one of the most divisive elections in years. These sites flocked to Facebook for greater reach, then profited from engagement using online advertising.
According to BuzzFeed News, liberal news sites and pages are getting more engagement than conservative ones since Trump’s election. That said, stoking division and preying on partisan anger are key tactics on the right and the left. Writers for these sites are often paid based on engagement. A 2014 story by liberal site Addicting Info netted a writer $20,026.63 in one month.
By analyzing 177 liberal and 490 conservative websites, a large number of pro-Trump websites were discovered operating outside of the U.S. At at least 77 sites and 51 Facebook pages were run out of Macedonia in early 2017, Buzzfeed News reports.
A small operation can easily make five figures in revenue with at least one website and a Facebook page, according to Buzzfeed News. In some cases, one person will own partisan websites on both sides of the aisle to hedge against a drop in user engagement.
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