Fake news have been proliferating the internet, particularly during the recent US elections. A 17-year-old Macedonian reportedly earned thousands of dollars by engaging in such activities.
Last month, it was revealed that there were over 100 pro-Trump websites which mainly produce fake news. According to BuzzFeed, they are being managed by people in the town of Veles in Macedonia. These sites generate articles to get traffic by using Facebook.
By just producing lies about the election, Dimitri, who asked BBC not to use his real name, is just one of the few residents in Macedonia to earn millions in just months, as reported by the Huffington Post.
"Nothing can beat Trump's supporters when it comes to social media engagement," he said. "So that's why we stick with Trump."
The teen produces stories that make no sense or are baseless just to negate the opposing parties of Trump. These include Clinton's emails, the famous Benghazi tragedy, and her rumored illness. He doesn't only target Clinton but Obama as well. This kid also made the news that Obama sends DOJ money to assist Clinton's campaign.
They don't really care about Trump, they just produce news that trigger Trump supporters He also stated that the most hit topics include "anti-Hillary posts."
After the elections, Dimitri said that their websites are still doing well and have still high profits because of course, they can adapt to the trending news. Some of the news they publish were just copied from another site with them just citing the URL, which produce money for their site.
Despite influencing many people by his fake news and affecting the public opinion, Dimitri wouldn't show any conscience and refuses to show his site on Google AdSense, which allows sites to make money per click and views. The reason he doesn't want to get caught is to protect the other four kids who assist him in this fraud job. He said he pays the kids $10 each per day to help him boost his site's views and that what he pays the kids are enough to let them each buy their own laptop and stuffs.
It's not surprising that Macedonians are into this kind of job because of their country's weak economy, average unemployed citizens and an income of $5,000. Also, teenagers like Dimitri weren't allowed to work. Dimitri said that just earning in this kind of work is enough for people like them and that he also knows someone who bought a BMW with just this job.
In addition, he still insists that producing fake news is not a negligent job, saying, "I didn't force anyone to give me money." Further explaining, he said, "People sell cigarettes, they sell alcohol. That's not illegal, why is my business illegal? If you sell cigarettes, cigarettes kill people. I didn't kill anyone." He argued that it is better to do this job than engaging in the drug business when he was asked if he is worried that his kid would do the same job.