Over the last 2 months, I’ve been investigating the most powerful and influential people in American politics. No, not Putin and the Russian Oligarchs. I’m talking about the people in the fake news industry.
There are two kinds of fake news. The first kind, the kind the president calls fake news are really just stories that he doesn’t like. That are about him. That make him look foolish. The other kind of fake news are those stories shared on social media that just never happened. They’re fake. Made up. Fiction.
For now, I’ll be focusing on the made up, fictional, fake news.
YAY!: So pervasive was fake anti-Clinton, Islamaphobic and racist stories on social media, that in November 2016, after Trump’s election, both Google and Facebook announced specific plans to restrict and punish websites that engage in the widespread dissemination of fake news. It’s 9 months later and I’m here to report: They did it! Congrats, Facebook and Google! There’s no more fake news.
I’m kidding. I’m here to report that 9 months later, Google and Facebook’s efforts have been as ineffective as the sexual harassment seminar taken by Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling. There are more “Obama Is a Muslim” memes on Facebook, than cat videos.
FACT: Did you know there are more than 500 fake news websites? 501 if you count Fox.
It’s a billion-dollar industry… that influences 10s of millions of voters… It, quite likely, was THE determining force in the 2016 election of Donald Trump.
Over the next 10 days, in a four-part series, I’m going to take you inside the world of fake news. You’re going to meet a couple of the website owners riding the Trump Train to Get-Rich-Istan. Which is ironic, given Trump’s hatred of Muslims. You’ll meet the people who write the fake news… who earn just 25 to 50 bucks per story. Slightly more if they can invent a dirty word that rhymes with “Hillary.” You’ll meet the companies selling the advertising, because that’s what’s driving this. Money. Well, that and classy t-shirt sales like one I saw that says: “Try Burning This One… Asshole.” And that was on a t-shirt for a baby to wear.
You’ll also see conclusive evidence that proves the intentional deception behind the endless tsunami of poisonous lies designed to ensure Trump’s continued presidency.
I’ll also take you inside Facebook’s most popular Trump pages and groups… Think of this community of 10 million plus like Disneyland. Only instead of all the fun theme park characters you love, all 10 million are exactly the same character: Goofy crossed with Strom Thurmond, Paula Dean and Colin McGregor.
You’ll also meet the guy behind Facebook’s biggest fake news Empire. It’s one guy. You never heard of him. He’s tried to erase his internet history. He wants to be anonymous. But I figured out who he is and where he got the money to start his conservative fake news media empire. He just might be the most influential guy on Facebook, if you don’t count Marc Zuckerberg or the guy responsible for uploading all the amazing panda videos.
Now, if this guy’s reach and influence doesn’t scare the shit out of you, perhaps this quote from his website’s manifesto will:
“The Americans that back Donald Trump are well armed. Donald Trump’s presidency will move forward politically lest the sixty million patriots who voted for him, that are comprised of the large majority of military voters, police, and NRA members, move it forward by force.” (ViralLiberty.com)
And that’s not all. I’ll take you inside the shocking Obama Clinton tape that proves collusion. Not between Trump and Russia. Collusion between Obama and Clinton… to undermine the Trump Presidency and make Hillary queen. It’s a shocking piece of video. In just 24 hours it’s had more than 50 thousand views and thousands of likes, shares and comments. It’s the tape that could exonerate Donald Trump. Were it not also fake news. Were it not 100% bullshit.
How do I know? I made it on my computer in 5 minutes and used some secret software to post it to dozens of pro-trump Facebook sites – with just one click and it went viral.
Look. Fake news undermines our confidence in politics and reality. It erodes the foundations of democracy. It undercuts our trust in gov’t and institutions. It makes us cynical. Suspicious. Erodes 100 years of well-deserved faith in the fourth estate.
But, even more troubling: the wide spread, continual dissemination of fake news keeps ½ the voting population purposefully naïve and misinformed… to the point they regularly make choices at the ballot box antithetical to their own self-interest, that undermine their own prosperity, and deprive the rest of us from having thoughtful reasoned debate on important issues like healthcare, immigration and the death penalty for anyone caught putting pineapple on pizza.
To see parts 2, 3 and 4 like our Facebook page.
Jon Hotchkiss is a 14 time Emmy nominee and the host of Be Less Stupid.