Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Samuel Alioto
Observer Staff Writer 

"Muslims Tear Apart Christmas Tree in US Mall" is Yet Another Fake News Story

Hoax goes viral; site is one of hundreds of fake news sites by Macedonian teenagers

 

November 22, 2016



This video, which has gone viral, actually shows Christians in Cairo peacefully engaging in an annual Christmas tree present hunt. But it has gone viral on youtube, under such headlines as "SWEDEN׃ Muslim Mob raids Christmas Tree, Rips off Crosses, destroys Decoration in Mall " Fake news is such a problem on the internet, that Barack Obama has commented on it.

Fake news stories did not disappear from the Internet after the election. A video on Youtube attached to a news story at US Conservativetoday.com, claims that the video shows Muslims at a US Mall tearing apart a Christmas tree. "Watch what these Muslims do when they see a Christmas tree being set up at the mall!"

"Ahh, the religion of peace and tolerance. Whenever Muslims move to Western nations they try to change everything about the culture to conform to sharia law. When they're not doing that, they're tearing down Christmas trees, because, Jesus, birth of the Son of God and all that. To them, Jesus is Blasphemy!" says the site.

Actually, according to one of the comments, "These are CHRISTIANS in the Middle East. They celebrate by climbing the metal scaffolding tree to find little presents that the mall hides in there and the men are tossing them out to people in the crowd. Your statement is bigoted and ignorant. Use your brain and stop believing everything you see on the internet."

The Youtube video has over 530,000 hits. It actually shows Christians in Cairo peacefully engaging in an annual Christmas tree present hunt. But it has gone viral on youtube, under such headlines as "SWEDEN׃ Muslim Mob raids Christmas Tree, Rips off Crosses, destroys Decoration in Mall " Fake news is such a problem on the internet, that Barack Obama complained about it last week.

The site, ww.conservativetoday.com, is one of hundreds of Macedonian websites, mostly from the town of Veles. There are few jobs for adults, let alone teenagers, who are not allowed to work. Sometime early in 2016, teenagers in Veles discovered they could make money by posting fake, pro Donald Trump news stories, and embedding ads from Google Adsense.

"The young men behind sites like WorldPolititcus.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com earn up to $5,000 a month, or more if their articles go viral in the U.S. on Facebook." http://theweek.com/speedreads/659537/lot-fake-donald-trump-news-coming-from-millennials-veles-macedonia

Google has since cracked down on the practice, and its adsense ads are no longer visible on such sites. The teenagers have returned to writing fake health sites, reportedly.

No, Tiffany Trump isn't calling Donald collect, to ask for money. Nice try, Macedonian teenagers!

It is unclear how much influence the practice actually had on the US presidential election, just concluded.

Over the past year, the Macedonian town of Veles (population 45,000) has experienced a digital gold rush as locals launched at least 140 US politics websites. These sites have American-sounding domain names such as WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com. They almost all publish aggressively pro-Trump content aimed at conservatives and Trump supporters in the US," writers Craig Silverman of Buzzfeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/how-macedonia-became-a-global-hub-for-pro-trump-misinfo?utm_term=.ddo3prL4z#.bkXY5lJow

Silverman says that false information on the internet dates back 20 years, and will probably never be completely eliminated.

 

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