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Sham news sites make big bucks from fake views

  • 1 December 2019
  • Author: QT01
  • Number of views: 853
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Sham news sites make big bucks from fake views
Forbes and Business Insider are both well-known news sites. So is forbesbusinessinsider.com a new spin-off?
No. It has nothing to do with either Forbes or Business Insider.
In fact, it's a site that copies and pastes entire articles from other publishers and reposts them with very slight changes.
There are 350 million registered domain names on the internet. Experts say it's impossible to count how many are sham news sites.
But just like legitimate websites, they earn money from the major tech companies that pay them to display ads.
Amazon and Google are two of the world's biggest players in the digital advertising industry.
They bring in billions of dollars a year from selling access to ad space across the internet.
When the BBC recently viewed forbesbusinessinsider.com, it saw ads promoting major brands including Sephora and Vitality insurance.
After Google was alerted to the site by the BBC, it stopped publishing ads on it but Amazon is still doing so.
The site was created by a web design firm based in Karachi, Pakistan. Designer Shahzad Memon told the BBC his company built forbesbusinessinsider.com as a test to find ways of increasing search engine optimisation - the ability to make a link to a site appear high up in search results for certain queries.
"You don't have to be an advanced hacker to do this," said Dr Augustine Fou, a digital advertising expert based in New York.
"As long as you know a little bit of code, you can build a basic website using templates."
Often the sites are not designed to be seen by human eyes at all.
The laredotribune.com website also - at first glance - appears to be a regular news site for a city in south Texas. There are stories about local residents and President Trump's border wall with Mexico.
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