EXPOSED: The Millions Of Dollars Funding Fake News Websites

turn blind eye to fake news

In July 2017, Storyzy – a French ad-tech startup that uses AI and natural-language processing to root out fake news sites, reported that more than 600 well-known brands had their advertisements placed on websites that were characterized as fake news. With 600+ companies identified, it can be expected that many tech companies, banks, retailers, airlines, cosmetic companies, luxury goods companies, universities, and NGOs made the list.

Although there are some advertisers who know their ads display on fake news websites and choose to look the other way, most of the brands funding the fake news ecosystem are doing so without knowing they are contributing. This is the result of a combination of negligence and greed from media buyers, and the cohort of intermediaries (such as media buyers and trading desks) that rule the digital advertising industry. At the moment, three-quarters of digital ad money flows to Facebook and Google.

It would appear that most of the major brands don’t care where their ads show up, as long as the overall return on investment is fine. This combination of deniability and greed is toxic.

1. the ability to deny something, as knowledge of or connection with an illegal activity.

The study performed by Storyzy exposes the source of the millions of dollars that are contributing to the survival of fake news. Misinformation or fake news media are super efficient at using resources like social media to maximize their time and budget. After all, their production costs are but a fraction of those required by legitimate websites who produce real news.

Financial Predators Pose The Greatest Threat To Investors

financial predator investors beware

When investors make investments, one of their primary concerns is risk. Although exposure to risk begins with the collection of investing information and performing due diligence, it remains a concern for investors long after they have made an investment. Unbeknownst to much of the investment community, it is financial predators who pose the greatest threat to the safety of their money.

There are nefarious individuals and organizations that will target investors with investing offers that compare well to their existing investment portfolio, but are slightly more appealing. Since these targeted investors have demonstrated the confidence to pursue investments, they are considered much easier to prey upon. This is a phenomenon referred to as successive approximations.

In successive approximation, each successive step towards the desired behavior is identified and rewarded. The series of rewards for different steps of the behavior increases the likelihood that the steps will be taken again and that they will lead to the desired end result being fulfilled. – Darcie Nolan

These financial predators identify their targets by acquiring lists of a company’s current investors. These are often acquired through the Black Market or “underground.” Once they have established that someone has already made an investment, and they have so far been rewarded by good returns,  they will manufacture investment offerings that improve on the investor’s investing experience. This is done by offering incentives, such as a free vacation, as well as by promising better returns and/or lower risk.

To further add to their guise, some predators will assume (steal) the identity of a reputable financial firm or organization. This identity theft is done with the intention of increasing their own credibility in the eyes of the targeted investor, and is yet another attempt to mislead the investment community.

Identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else’s identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage in the other person’s name. – Wikipedia

In most instances, making an investment is a long-term commitment for both the investor and investment provider. This relationship is supported by well-established trust that is the envy of financial predators. The continued risk to investors is that, to their own gain, criminals will use aspects of this relationship to manipulate and fool people. Whether it is a similar offer, an incentive like a free trip, better returns, or lower risk, their intention is to mislead the investment community and bilk them out of their savings. Investors BEWARE.

Producers Are Using Social Media to Spread Fake News Stories

social media fake news

It has been nearly a full year since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, and fake news has persisted as a problem. In fact, the fake news scourge is likely to get worse before it gets better. Some believe it is because of the centrality of social media’s role in its dissemination. The root of the problem is that fake news producers have learned to effectively use social media to spread lying headlines and misleading stories.

In December of 2016, Facebook acknowledged that fake news was becoming a threat to journalism everywhere. To combat the spread of misinformation on its social media platform, Facebook has launched a variety of efforts that have seen mixed results. In some instances, the company’s deterrents have unintentionally driven an increase in traffic to the worst fake news offenders.

Both Google and Apple have taken steps to prevent the spread of misinformation across their platforms. In the past, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called called for a massive campaign against fake news.

Perhaps the most effective way to combat fake news, comments and reviews is to improve the credibility of existing content and reliable producers of content. The assistant director for the Tow Center for Digital Journalism – Susan McGregor, advocates for verified digital signatures on news stories that confirm the identity of the author, and the time of publication. This would allow news resources, like CNN, to rebuild public trust and set their work apart from that of content mills and fake news factories.

Fake news seems to be everywhere these days and so far experienced reporters have no answers for how journalism could better combat it. Sadly, efforts to remove fake comments, reviews and stories are akin to playing a game of Whack-a-Mole; remove one fake news offender, ten more fake news articles will appear.

Trump-Russia Investigation Examines Phenomena of FAKE NEWS

putin trump 2017

The Trump-Russia investigation is expected to closely examine one of the biggest political phenomena of the modern era, fake news. The special counsel is expected to investigate Moscow-connected Twitter bots and Facebook “trolls” that repeatedly produced fake campaign-related headlines, and thereby helped to boost Donald Trump’s candidacy for President of the U.S.

Social media researchers studying the 2016 United States’ presidential election have concluded that both real internet trolls and fake bot accounts preyed on American voters — more than 60 percent of whom relied upon social media for their political discussions — and helped create an atmosphere for false news stories and fake comments, that established Trump’s perceived popularity, pumped up pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton hashtags, and even suppressed those who offered opposition.

The ability to find a site that looks like a real news place, have them run a story that isn’t true, have your trolls begin to click on that story, it rises on Facebook as a trending topic, people start to read it, by the time they figure out it isn’t true, a lot of people think it is. – Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

The special investigator’s team will examine whether the Trump campaign or Trump’s intermediaries delivered micro-targeted data to the Russian social media operators to help them target their anti-Clinton/Pro-Trump messages, especially in important swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The investigation must determine whether Trump’s aides and allies directly assisted the Russian-linked accounts, thereby running afoul of a federal law which “prohibits presidential campaigns from accepting or coordinating contributions or expenditures — directly or indirectly — from foreign nationals.”

As it pursues its investigation, the team has at its disposal the underlying assessments of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and National Security Agency (NSA), which in early January 2017 released a public report that stated Moscow led an “unprecedented” attack on the U.S. election blending covert hacking with open moves by state-funded Russian propaganda and paid social media users, or trolls, in an attempt to help elect Donald Trump for President of the United States.

News Alliance Says Google And Facebook Supporting Fake News


The news industry has been hit with declining print readership and a loss of advertising revenue as it has moved online. An alliance of approximately 2,000 news/media organizations says Google and Facebook’s dominance in online advertising and traffic is supporting fake news and creating an unsustainable future for journalism.

According to eMarketer, Google and Facebook combined will account for 60% of the U.S. digital advertising market in 2017. The news outlets say they want stronger protections for intellectual property, more support for subscription models, and a bigger share of the online advertising market.

The News Media Alliance, which represents nearly 2,000 news organizations in the United States and Canada, believes that because of the two companies’ dominance, news publishers are forced to “surrender their content and play by their rules on how news and information is displayed, prioritized and monetized.” This often puts media publishers in head-to-head competition with fake news.

These rules have commoditized the news and given rise to fake news, which often cannot be differentiated from real news. – News Alliance Press Release

The biggest challenge facing the news alliance is that it would need an exemption from antitrust law to negotiate as a group. However, if permitted to open discussions with Google and Facebook, the alliance could push for stronger intellectual-property protection, better support for their subscription models, and a fairer share of ad revenue and customer data. Many believe that doing so could build a more sustainable future for the news business.

Facebook says the company is working to cut down on fake news, fake reviews, and click-bait headlines, in favor of “quality journalism.”

Undercover Operation Reveals CNN Produced Fake News Story

cnn fake news

CNN has been “caught cold” in an undercover sting operation that revealed the network’s fake news story about President Trump’s ties to Russia, was pushed by the CEO of CNN, to maintain the network’s “incredible” ratings.

Known for their undercover sting operations, Project Veritas has – in the past – exposed the Democratic National Committee’s highly organized network of professional agitators sent to disrupt Trump rallies, and exposed instances of voter fraud. This time, the organization infiltrated CNN in search of fake news.

In the fake news operation, an undercover Project Veritas journalist covertly filmed a candid discussion with a CNN producer. In the conversation the network employee admitted that the whole Russia story against President Trump is nothing more than a ratings grab by CNN’s CEO Jeff Zucker. Apparently he is doing so to appease most of CNN’s liberal audience who want to see the President go down in flames.

When asked whether the “whole Russia shit is just bullshit,” the CNN producer responded by saying “it’s mostly bullshit right now.” He continued to say that he thinks the President is probably right to say that CNN is witch hunting him, because at the moment there is no smoking gun, and no proof.

I haven’t seen any good enough evidence to show that the President committed a crime. – John Bonifield, CNN Producer

The CNN story in question was removed from in late June 2017, and replaced with an editor’s note that read: “On June 22, 2017, published a story connecting Anthony Scaramucci with investigations into the Russian Direct Investment Fund. That story did not meet CNN’s editorial standards and has been retracted. Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci.”

Three CNN journalists who had been involved in the story about alleged ties between Trump’s allies and Russia, resigned after CNN made the retraction.

Earlier in 2017, Trump called the media “the enemy of the American People!” In the wake of the CNN fake news scandal President Trump also called out several other television networks, including the New York Times and The Washington Post, and wondered when they too would be “caught.”

Unmoderated, Fake Comments Are a Damaging Form of Fake News

unmoderated fake comments

Since its emergence, fake news has shown the world that it can take many threatening forms. Aside from fake reviews, one of the most damaging examples of fake news is the unmoderated comments found in blogs, communities, and forums.

unmoderated definition

If they are not carefully vetted by an administrator, unmoderated, improperly moderated, and fake comments – like fake news – can convey an incorrect and harmful message to audience members. This is especially true in instances where the reader is seeking information on which to base an important decision, like choosing investments.

Example of Improperly Moderated or Fake Comments

In this example of an improperly moderated comment, a participant named “Matt” claims to be unhappy with the returns he has been earning with a company named Davenport Laroche.

matt davenport laroche fake review

Wondering why Davenport Laroche had not taken the time to respond to Matt’s complaint, we brought it to the attention of the company. To our surprise, they were already aware of the comment. According to the representative we spoke to, the company has made several attempts to retort, but were being prevented from doing so by the post’s moderator. In the spirit of fairness, we thought we would give Davenport Laroche an opportunity to respond to this improperly moderated comment.

Davenport Laroche Response

We have reviewed our database and identified the owner of this post. The poster has been a client since 2015 and made an annual return of 20.19%. In 2016, he made an average of 19.28%, which I daresay is his best investment.

He states after 12 months he received “absolute zilch”, “nothing at all now for the last 2 months”. This is untrue. His returns have decreased because markets fluctuate, as is clearly stated in Article 5.5 of the contract. He signed it and even if he has read it, he doesn’t understand it.

Every business has good months and not so good months, and to assume that returns will always be high denotes either a lack of commercial experience or naivety. Declaring a company is “a scam” because returns are not to his liking is defamatory. The profile of his account is normal and healthy (we consider an average annual return of 19.28% to be healthy). The contract states clearly that markets fluctuate and most people know that. Clearly the poster is the exception that confirms the rule.

The poster also states untruthfully we have not replied to his emails. My colleague Theo Chamberlain emailed in on the 2nd and 6th of September 2016 to which he did not have the courtesy to reply. He goes on to reveal his credentials as a naysayer by the comment “…and maybe try to even contact them by phone (which I am sure will lead absolutely nowhere).” All he or anyone else has to do is dial our switchboard from 10.00 AM Hong Kong time.

Given the average returns of 19.28% that he himself confirmed he has received I feel his comments are ill considered and frankly “a bit much”.

Final Thought

A comment section of a blog, for example, is very important. It shows that the community is composed of people who think, and are thoughtful. Moderated comment sections are intended to build community and lend deeper insight to the conversation. Although it is not uncommon to see people challenge the beliefs/ideas of the writer and other commentators, moderators have the responsibility to ensure they are not contributing to a fake review and/or fake news.

Alexis Assadi Uses Fake News To Lure People To His Services

Apple CEO Tim Cook has a dire warning about the effects of fake news.

We are going through this period of time right here where unfortunately some of the people that are winning are the people that spend their time trying to get the most clicks, not tell the most truth.

He added that these faux reports are “killing people’s minds in a way.”

One such instance of fake news, written is an article written by a 26 year old amateur “investor, writer, and entrepreneur” named Alexis Assadi. Aside from this, Mr. Assadi is also what members of the Internet community commonly refer to as a “troll.”

A “troll” is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community – such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog – with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response, often for the troll’s benefit. – Wikipedia

Moreover, Alexis Assadi is nothing more than a hired gun who will attack his competitors, or the competitors of the companies he is hired by. One of his most popular tactics is to spread false, misleading information – more commonly known as fake news, in exchange for compensation. Dangerously, this unsubstantiated, fake information forms the shaky foundation for Alexis’ hypothesis about Davenport Laroche.

Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially. Often, the author will use sensationalist, exaggerated, or blatantly false headlines to grab the attention of the audience. With regards to Alexis Assadi and his news about Davenport Laroche, his misleading headline entices investors to visit his website, so they will ultimately employ HIM and HIS financial services; or at the very least sign up for his email newsletter.

Mr. Assadi’s use of fake news and fake reviews to lure investors to his services is shameful. Alexis has no intention of helping anyone but himself. Investors beware!