Step 1: How News Websites Make Money
To understand how this really happened, you have to understand how the online news industry makes money. Essentially, online newspapers make money by selling advertising space. The more people that visit your website and the more people that click on any given advertisement(s) contained within it, the more money that site makes. What you should also understand is that some advertisers will also pay “per-click” or per view, meaning that every time an article is clicked on or read, the website will generate a small bit of money for you having seen that advertisement featured on it – even if it is only a few pennies. Therefore, theoretically, the more articles you produce the more money you can make. That’s how many sites “mined” advertising revenue in the past and into the future.
This practice was at the heart of the “Fake News” epidemic and “Prop or Not List,” and I know this because I used to source content to 4 websites featured on that list from 10/2015-11/2016. However, it always used to bother me to see some of my most important articles featured next to advertisements like “Click Here: See Which Child Celebrities Grew Up To Be Obese,” or “8 Tips To Increase Penis Size” directly beside my work. In fact I hated it, but I also knew I was only getting paid to write those article in the first place because of those very advertisements – such is/was “Show Business.”
Step 2: How To Generate More Money by Increasing Site Traffic
With that established, you then need to understand the art of “SEO” or “Click-Baiting.” While both can technically be considered skills, only one of which do I really consider a legitimate business practice. For the purposes of this article I would like to focus on the concept of baiting people to click on articles, by generating the most inciteful, over the top, belligerent and/or emotionally charged headlines as possible. This is done simply to cater to a particular audience, get people riled up and engaged, or make them excited/pissed off – ensuring that either way, whomever sees the article will want to click on it, even if for no other reason than to see what the hell is actually going on. Remember, the more people who click on any online article, the more money that article makes. That’s literally the only “goal” of a click-bait article, to get someone to click on it – the subject matter after that point doesn’t necessarily matter, really.
I once did an experiment. For example, who wants to read an article “How Political Partisanship Effects The Dynamics of Modern Democracy,” when they could read something like “Breaking: Hillary Clinton Fronted Child Sex Ring for Husband Bill.” It might be dirty, but I assure you the second article will generate at least 10x as many clicks as the first; 10x the revenue – that’s just the way the online/internet “culture” is, draw your own conclusions about society after that point if you really want. While that is an extreme example, I think it demonstrates the concept quite clearly.
Lastly, before you go ahead and judge, make assumptions or draw any wild conclusions about the websites I sourced content to or did work for, you should also understand that this was an industry-wide practice, from the largest American news corporations on down through the grimiest of Russian propagandists – and everyone in between.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 18, 2017
Step 3: How Trump Coverage Was A Media Gold Mine
This concept is a little easier to understand. I mean, who is more polarizing than Donald Trump himself? Even on through today, just the mere mention of his name is enough to throw people into hysterical fits of rage and throughout the course of 2015-2016, perhaps no one in the world attracted/garnered more attention than Trump did. Keeping what you just learned about click-bait and pay-per-click websites in mind, Trumps media madness created a perfect, highly profitable, storm.
As I can personally attest, any article featuring something wild about Trump received astronomically more reactions, comments and reads than anything intellectual – thus those types of articles made astronomically more money. For example, here are two articles produced by myself in the summer of 2016, both featuring coverage of Donald Trump:
That was also not a fluke, that was the online news industry at the time. After long enough people almost couldn’t help themselves, Trump coverage generated higher ratings than any other topic – so people just kept on including/featuring it. The problem was that the money never stopped flowing in, and after month after month after month of non-stop coverage, soon enough America had managed to make it through the national primary and debate seasons, and there we were – left with Clinton v Trump for the US Presidency. As unbelievable as it sounds, no one knew exactly how it happened, I guess we all just got a little too wrapped up in corporate greed/money making and it just kind of sort of happened.
Controversy or craziness sells in the media, it is what it is really. Clearly that was what people in society liked/wanted, so news organizations felt obligated to give it to them – “Let Them Eat Cake!” The fact of the matter is that in 2015-2016 the news game was all about who could attract the most attention away from everyone else, there was nothing more to it than that. This phenomenon also wasn’t limited to online audiences, you best believe that from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to CNN and Fox News, all the major corporate news networks were in on it – Trump was a money making media goldmine for everyone.
Step 4: Why Foreign Actors Pushed Support for Trump
Russia. As for why Russia pushed support for Trump, there are two reasons. First was that the Russians knew full well how polarizing of a figure Donald Trump was within American society, and it has always been one of Russia’s primary objectives to disrupt American society – or at the very least make them feel “uncomfortable.” One of the primary means through which they go about accomplishing this is by going around sowing “Discord” or “Anarchy” around society. For example, remember when Facebook revealed that Russian advertisers had bought adverting space to heavily push support for Black Lives Matter protests, but targeted those advertisements directly at political conservatives and white supremacists online? Or when Facebook revealed how Russian advertisers had pushed heavy support for alt-right material, but targeted it exclusively to/at political liberals?
Read More – NATO’s Handbook of Russian Information Warfare: https://krypt3ia.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/fm_9.pdf
Because the country with 400 years of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, the KKK, Fox News, institutional racism, police brutality and mass incarceration of blacks and hispanics, needs Russia to cause racial tensions via facebook ads supporting Black Lives Matter. https://t.co/28AMipozUN
— Amir (@AmirAminiMD) February 22, 2018
"they created pages on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms to spread content around issues like immigration and religion; a group called “Blacktivist”, which had previously been linked to Russia, garnered at least 360,000 likes on Facebook for its Black Lives Matter posts" https://t.co/d7FhWAmQpF
— Lawyers' Committee ☎️866-OUR-VOTE (@LawyersComm) February 16, 2018
The second reason why Russia favored Trump was because Vladimir Putin knew that Trump would be more sympathetic to Russia’s concerns, and less likely to engage the country in various political battles or world affairs – such as has been the case in Syria. There is also no denying that Trumps political platform was certainly more favorable towards Russia than Clinton’s was, for example. In other ways, Vladimir Putin also suspected that he may have been be able to socially manipulate/engineer Trump, especially given Trumps “alleged ties” to Russian businesses and Oligarchs throughout the past. It also didn’t hurt than many of Russia’s closest allies also considered the theoretical election of Donald Trump to signal the literal downfall of the United States as they knew it.
China. In April 2016 I remember coming across a report featured by The Wall Street Journal, discussing statement’s given by China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei in regards to the projections of the US Presidential election later that year. More specifically, Minister Jiwei stated that he believed Donald Trump was an “irrational type,” whose election “would make the United States no longer entitled to world leadership” headed in to the future. At the time, he was the highest ranking official within China’s Government to make any such remarks. That’s essentially it, really. There were several world leaders and countries all over the world who though the election of Donald Trump would be a giant joke, and the worst possible outcome for the American public – so Chinese social media farms and Russian propagandists went “All In” to try and get him elected – the rest is history.
Read More from Harvard University – How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument: https://gking.harvard.edu/50C
Step 5: The Accidentally, On Purpose, Election of Donald Trump
I don’t necessarily think anyone ever actually expected Donald Trump would eventually become President one day, let alone himself. In retrospect, our enemies were simply just trying to make fun of and divide American society, whilst also trying to set this country/international relations back decades by electing him. Here in America, advertisers, corporate executives and news organizations were all just simply trying to exploit him and profit off of all the attention/controversy he garnered, and Trump even once admitted behind closed doors that he only decided to run in the first place for “the lulz” of it all.
It may have all been a giant mistake, it may have been an accident, or maybe Donald Trump really did earn it – who am I to decide? All I know that the fake news fiasco, Russian propaganda nonsense and click-bait epidemic spiraled out of control and snowballed into a force that fundamentally altered the course of human history. All the world should now realize that, along with being the worlds single largest library, the internet is one of the worlds greatest weapons. It is not for naught my tag reads “Give me a website and platform big enough and I can move the world. The keystroke is mightier than the sword.” With that, I bid you adieu, stay classy mis amigos 😉