During the last election, a popular fake news story, titled “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide” spread across the internet. It’s completely false but, that didn’t stop hundreds of thousands of people from sharing it. The story lived on denverguardian.com – one of those fake news websites that only has one story.

It looks a lot like a real, local news website. 

So, NPR decided to track down the writer-publisher-prankster-entrepreneur. That person is Jestin Coler who has been crowned the “King of Fake News.” He runs many sites like NationalReport.net, USAToday.com.co, WashingtonPost.com.co. 

And it it offends you that I’m calling some of your favorite sources fake news, even Coler admits they’re fake. Coler says he works with about 20-25 writers to create content for his many fake news sites under Disinfomedia

According to the article, “He says he got into fake news around 2013 to highlight the extremism of the white nationalist alt-right.”

Ever the businessman, the article also says, “Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.”

You can read their full interview with him at NPR’s website

Since the initial interview, Coler has come out from behind his computer for many interviews and keeps offering the same advice.

Essentially, he says fake news will exist as long as there is money to be made from it.

Your Take

If there is one unsettlingly capitalist takeaway from every story about fake news generators, it’s that the desire for such content exists and the advertisers are willing to pay to display alongside it. 

What do you think about the role of fake news in the pay-per-click environment?

I’d like to hear your thoughts about the responsibility of both the content creators and the advertisers. Leave me a not in the comments below or get in touch with me on Instagram. 

Additional Reading

Sydell, L. (2016, November 23). We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs. Here’s What We Learned. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/23/503146770/npr-finds-the-head-of-a-covert-fake-news-operation-in-the-suburbs