Wired has found several examples of scams-disguised-as-news on Slate, Salon, and Huffington Post, among other websites. Most of the mock news stories, none of which are labeled as ads, tout lucrative Google jobs: “Can You Really Work Online at Home? We Investigate This Trend.”
The Huffington Post example is typical. The fake news headline, “How I Make $1700 a Week Posting Links on Google” linked to fake TV station News 5. The home town of the now-prosperous mother featured in the story—mentioned in the lead paragraph—magically changes based on users’ IP address. Mine says Brooklyn, NY.
And News 5 is just the tip of the iceberg.
It turns out there’s a whole fake-media empire pushing the story of the massive profits to be made by gaming Google from home: The Boston Weekly News, USA Financial Post, America Finance News, New York Finance News, Ohio Business News, the New York Tribune News, the Bakersfield Gazette, the San Jose Times, and the prestigious New York City Hearld. No, not “Herald”; Hearld….
Google rigging isn’t the only story out there. The Slate ad, ostensibly from an ABC affiliate (the fictitious News 3), hawked an anti-aging pill called Resveratrol Ultra. Still, most of the examples Wired found focused on Google, which makes a certain kind of sense. Focusing on building up their fake links first stands to make any future campaigns more effective.
“This Just In: Fake News Sites Are Great!” [Wired] (Thanks, tonedef!)
Carrie McLaren & Jason Torchinsky are coeditors of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. In previous lives, they worked together on the hopelessly obscure and now defunct Stay Free! magazine .