Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Sham news sites make big bucks from fake views (bbc.com)
158 points by pseudolus 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments

This is common. I help develop a small browser MMO game-- 50,000 monthly active users. There were at least three sites that iframe'd our site, put ads on it, and made money off of it. Code was added in to detect this and redirect users.

You can go around that as a web developer by redirecting traffic through a server and kicking that header off.

After which the original source can ban your server's IP.

Let the whack-a-mole games begin.

Proxy the script and alter it... Whack. :P

That's pretty much the case for any remote content. Proxy and rewrite the response. But that added step is usually enough, especially for something as complicated as a Browser MMO.

Also, web servers should have rate limits set which would make proxying less viable, even for IP ranges.

It sounds like you're describing a situation where actual users were duped into accessing another site which was displaying your content in an iframe, but that's slightly different from what this article is talking about.

The sites this article is describing do copy content from other sites, but only to make it look legitimate at first glance. They aren't trying to get actual users to access the site, but instead using bots for click fraud.

Welcome to HTML5 game distribution. I also worked on a .io game with about 200k MAU, most games actually want this, because 1) the game has potential to grow, be known, and you get more user base. 2) if you have IAPs (in-app purchases) then you can also potentially monetize those users, even if they already see ads over the iframe.

Yeah, the exact same thing happened to my partner. Did the same at first to redirect, but ended up deciding against it since it brought more visibility and players to a very niche multiplayer game.

Can you talk a bit about how this felt? As an outsider, it seems like it would be conflicting. On one hand, people profiting off your work without asking. On the other, increasing the network effect increases the games value.

There’s a reason photoshop is easy to pirate. Ditto for Windows. They know they want more people using their product.

Especially for an online game, it’s probably a win. If you have an ingame store, more people playing = more people buying.

Offline games are more problematic. Piracy is a big deal just because there’s not much incentive to pay for anything. People are lazy and often take the path of least resistance. If your game pops up on piratebay for free, people are less inclined to pay for it.

I keep talking about piracy here because it’s conceptually similar to the iframe hijack thing. They’re “pirating the content” in that sense. But sometimes it’s smart to let piracy happen.

Photoshop is not easy to pirate anymore or even have a trial. Things have changed a lot during the cs era unless you want to use old versions.

Because the market got large and growth slowed.

If you don't mind sharing, what's the name of the game? I got my start in programming through Runescape back when it was still a java applet run through the browser, so I'd love to check it out.

Were you the guy with that interesting story some time ago about the autonomous bot you made/improved upon?

Yes! I got my devops start managing linux servers which ran various automation software for the game which made some nice pocket money for a high schooler. I actually made pretty good use of the Microsoft Azure launch because they had a very generous free tier for the time. Sort of a grey hat activity all things considered.

It's a cool story. I wish you all the best.

I remember how, as a 10 year old playing Diablo 2, my knowledge of obscure weapon names and adjectives for armour in the English vocabulary was probably much better than that of adults. And we are all the better for it!

I kind of view my hierarchy of needs in terms of gaming. Do I have enough money to buy this or that? And if I don't, then I just tell myself: Well, StarCraft was never fun with the cheats, now was it? Hobbies are also like that, it's like happiness is like hacking a game to be fun for you rather than getting to the end point.

Any chance the site was blocked in schools/workplaces? If it was, users didn't have a choice but try to use a mirror. You should setup some mirrors to help them.

iframing a site wouldn't typically work to dodge school/work content filters.

Oh right if it's just an Iframe. I found for my sites that some copycats do simple Iframe whereas some do url rewriting or content injection.

Iframing is ideal for that purpose, it pushes all the costs on the original content creator and pushes all the profits towards the assholes.


I guess if you start a free play in town and try to sell bus tickets to bring people to town, and I drive my friend there and ask him for money, I am an asshole.

what a world

Its more like pretending you put on the play and taking ticket money at the door without giving anything back.

Nice of them to provide so many examples at the bottom of their own page.

Exactly what I was thinking:

> https://i.imgur.com/0EPIi6D.png

BBC is not allowed to show ads in UK. It's likely that the journalist who wrote the article is totally unaware that the page has this kind of spam in other countries. Hilarious though.

It's baffling to me how many major news outlets have willingly compromised their integrity in this way, to the point of permitting Outbrain/Taboola to use look-alike fonts and formatting.

In an era where legitimate reporting gets called "fake news", why make that easier to do?

Because Outbrain and Taboola can easily be 1/10th or more of a legit site's revenue, on the order of millions of dollars. I'm not saying that's a good thing, it's a very difficult argument with the amount of money you could potentially miss out on.

It's not a legitimate site any more once it starts making money that way. You might as well sell cigarettes in a health food store. Outbrain and Taboola are cancer and the world would be better off if their offices were flattened by a meteor impact.

I assert it doesn’t affect the legitimacy of the site at all. Also, I don’t think selling cigarettes undermines a pharmacy.

I may place less importance on “brand coherency” and more on “value to myself” than others.

Sure, in the short term.

The damage to their reputations may cost substantially more in the long run. Doesn't take many "I clicked a NYT article and it was a scam" experiences to permanently sour someone on the outlet.

How many people do care about reputation of a news source beyond "it's mainstream" vs. "it's a tabloid" vs. "it's something random I've never seen before"? I think most people these days don't follow news sites, they click through to individual articles from their IMs and social media feeds.

I cancelled a NYT subscription over their continued employment of folks like Bret Stephens (https://www.vox.com/2019/8/27/20834957/bret-stephens-bedbug-...) and Bari Weiss (https://theintercept.com/2017/08/31/nyts-newest-op-ed-hire-b...). It wouldn't be shocking for someone to do so over Taboola.

It's similar with affiliate links. Make tons of money but compromise your integrity and point your users to the exit door.

This is a BBC worldwide thing, we don't get any of this on the UK site. Bit of a strange stance.

Such a strange stance. To point out the hypocrisy visible to 99.2% of the world's population.

I think parent commenter was talking about it being a strange stance on the part of BBC, not on the part of the person pointing out the hypocrisy.

If it’s not visible to the original author and his/her primary audience then is it actually hypocrisy?

Or an unfortunate case in point (irony)?

Not sure what you mean, I was saying it's a strange stance for the BBC.

I rarely see all this stuff, since I'm using adblocker, but this is legitimately funny.

at least they make money off those ads. kind of a revenge

I had no idea the BBC showed ads outside the UK. It's really upsetting how far it has fallen in recent years.

While I agree that standards have fallen at the BBC in recent years, this is not an example of that. BBC sites have shown ads outside the UK for more than ten years on the basis that UK licence fee payers shouldn't have to subsidise their sites for visitors outside the UK. The ad income pays for that. Same with BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, that sells BBC content to other broadcasters outside the UK.

Yeah. Those pictures made this an uncomfortable read. Taboola and Outbrain straight to /dev/null thank you very much.

None of them are fake news sites. For example if your go to techdiscountdeals . com, you will get an advertisement for a product.

They're shown on news sites, intentionally worded and configured to look like "related content" sort of headlines.

The same happens in print media, 'Het Financeele Dagblad', the Dutch analogy to the Financial Times had a whole pile of IBM advertising copy in it that was the spitting image of their editorial content.

The article is about news sites which copy articles. The sites that those ads link to are entirely ads with no real news.

It's about fake views, not fake or copied news. The first site was copying articles (and banned by Google) but the Laredo one doesn't seem to be.

Meanwhile "similarweb" stats are also fake...... "We estimate each site is making at least $100,000 [£77,450] a month," said Vlad Shevtsov, director of investigations at Social Puncher.

this is no. 1 bull shit........basically main stream news-portal reporter have no knowledge about tech..

I would love to know as well how they are getting a $100 cpm when google says the average is less than $3

But how does one go about getting traffic to such a sham site? In terms of SEO, hihg traffic keywords are very competitive, and advertising such as Google or Facebook is expensive. If one were to copy the template and puts ads on it, it's not like they would start making thousands of dollars a day.

I worked in adtech detecting and blocking this stuff circa 2011. Back then it was common for sites like these to be used to launder impressions into higher-paying CPI categories. So you might have an arcade site (low CPI) include a hidden iframe for a fake beauty site.

It was honestly pretty easy to detect, but it seemed to me that the industry was just looking the other way because everyone in the industry was just trying to drive volume for their eventual IPO.

I think now the iframe stuff is harder to get away with, but botnets were a big source of traffic as well.

I used to think that people would really care about this but because only the advertisers are being defrauded everyone does tend to look the other way. I wouldn't shut up about ad fraud and how big a deal it was going to be years ago and I was just wrong because people in this sector just have a really high tolerance for crime and people are just looking the other way.

Google purchased Spyder.io and did nothing with it by the looks of it.

I was involved in the brand safety space (I built ML systems to detect things that are unsafe for the brand). My impression is that even brands aren't really _that_ interested in brand safety. I think they're more reactive than proactive on that end.

They aren't making money off human visitors, its largely click farms and botnets.

I used to know a guy back in 2014 who's entire business model was based on ad arbitrage.

1) buy clicks on native ad networks 2) send user to a gallery style page (press next to see another celeb without makeup) 3) load all pages with a ton of ads 4) profit.

This CPM arbitrage was super common back then, still is prevalent but is getting tougher.

Taboola/Outbrain merging and saying they will take on goog/fb is a joke.


The money's one thing, but my concern is that the same ad-fraud tech used to fake all those views can fake views to actual news sites (and influence coverage via analytics). If it can beat Google and Amazon's fraud detection, how well would the news sites be able to detect that sort of attack?

I haven't had any luck getting BBC's numbers on their click-fraud detection rates ='( 3 FOI requests rejected due to security exceptions.

It's been like this for years. Been losing trust in those major news sites. Ad blocker helps. Avoiding them is better.

Interesting that the site they are talking about is from my area, I've been on it before and never felt it was suspicious. I've usually assumed a lot of news publications here that tend to report on cartel related activities often like to stay anonymous due to the fact people will try to kill you for it.

The Internet has democratized information. Big media has lost their monopoly on news. So they are lashing out and accusing small media and independents of anything they can accuse them of, including fake news, fake views, plagarism, anything at all. It's not that their particular accusations are necessarily wrong. But the story they have been pushing front and center for the last few years now is the idea that all news sources and websites other than big media are somehow suspect, dangerous, untrustworthy, fake. This is self-serving and disingenuous.

I went to the site they use as an example and clicked the first link: https://forbesbusinessinsider.com/these-tech-execs-faced-met...

The article is just blogspam of https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/tech-men-accuse... .

> It's not that their particular accusations are necessarily wrong.

More importantly, it's questionable journalism. It amazes me how much fluff the mainstream media pumps out. So much so that the real and actual news gets buried (read: most people end up under-informed).

The MSM events might be real, but that doesn't make it news. News has importance. News has relevance. But that text book definition a lot of MSM news is in fake not real news.

Journalists are currently underpaid. Small newspapers are shutting down left and right.

That's contributing to journalism going to hell.

True. But the biggest contribution is the big time mainstream media's race to the bottom. They're not focused on quality. They're focused on quantity (i.e., ad revenue).

That's another facet of the same issue.

It's a little like arguing about whether the rampant dry tinder in the drought is the problem or the vast numbers of tourists flicking their still burning cigarette butts into it is the problem while we stare at the ongoing conflagration.

I see it different. Given the importance of The Fourth Estate, the nature of TFE's business is, in and of itself, important. Yet, they bury that lead behind an endless stream of fluff.

>Journalists are currently underpaid

Based on what? Their pay is surely a function of the revenue their content generates their publishers, no?

>Small newspapers are shutting down left and right.

Because the above journalists aren't sufficiently able to engage people to pay for their content.

It amounts to people providing something that few are interested in, or especially sufficiently interested to actually pay for it. How would those providers be deemed underpaid?

Sounds frivolous.

I'm a writer (not a journalist) and I'm quite poor. So I pretty often read articles about what is going on with the industry generally.

I'm not going to bother to dig up supporting links. These articles show up on HN quite regularly. I'm also increasingly seeing comments on HN about the poor quality of journalism today.

I'm only pointing out what looks to me like a blindingly obvious connection.

I spent two weeks writing a blog post that hit the front page of HN. It got more than 60k page views and 300 comments and was copied by other people. It made me not one red cent.

I find it really hard to attract Patreon supporters. I'm routinely told "get a real job," never mind that with the rise of the Gig Economy there are damn few "real jobs" with good pay and excellent benefits out there.

So I know firsthand that it takes substantial time and effort to write a good piece and it takes years of experience to get good at writing, but that writing is often de facto given away for free or sold for peanuts so some writer can eat occasionally.

I"m tired of trying to prove this to people who don't want to listen.

The TLDR: If you want actual good writing, you should be trying to figure out how to reward writers who write well. If you don't want to in any way, shape or form whatsoever (because most people on HN use ad blockers) let them get paid somehow, don't be all shocked when the writing goes to shit.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. But the issue in journalism that I hear most often isn't about the quality of writing, it's about the editorial decisions, the choice of what to write about and how to spin it, and the lack of sufficient fact checking and investigation. I think the writing skills are fine. In fact I'd prefer that the writing skills went down a notch: I'd rather have someone just give me a dull list of facts.

I'd happily pay for a newsfeed that had only stories that I found relevant, factual and matter-of-fact rather than vapid, sensational, emotional and/or manipulative. One more story about something Trump tweeted or something about a Kardashian and I swear I'm going to break my TV. It also really bothers me that stories I hear about through back channels (overseas media, youtube live videos, government websites) are entirely ignored by most media outlets.. their choices of what is and isn't a story is IMHO way different than what I would be willing to pay for. My money mostly stays in my pocket given the dearth of good choices but there are a few sources out there I've been happy with: AgendaFree TV, Subverse News, AllSides.com. Public news radio has also been very good, and WSJ, Reuters and AP seem to be the most sufferable of the mainstream.

I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm explaining why I pay attention to such information and what informs my views on the topic.

I know quite a lot about a number of subjects. I would love nothing better than to spend my time providing quality content on those subjects. This has been a long-time desire of mine and it usually feels like it is going nowhere fast, though a more accurate description is perhaps "it's very painfully slow and might arrive on the twelfth of never."

I talk about me in part because I spent a whole lot of time in therapy to sort my personal crap, so my observations about people very often hit a nerve in a completely unforgivable way. Talking about me goes weird places and people think I am a narcissist ...etc...but it's usually less disastrous than if I make what seems to me a painfully obvious observation about someone else and it wasn't obvious to anyone but me and everyone is shocked and the person I've said it about was sure they had hidden their secrets well and blah blah blah. It's a case of "Let's take her out and shoot her promptly after tea."

I'm a former homemaker -- military wife and homeschooling mom -- and I was Director of Community Life for a time for The TAG Project. I raised two twice exceptional sons. I know a helluva lot about raising challenging children and I began blogging due to demand for what I knew on some email lists years ago.

I've struggled with figuring out how to translate that to a successful blog and the people who could vouch for me won't for various reasons. Some of that appears to be straight up sexism, but I can't prove that and naming names publicly of people who have actively engaged in polite character assassination would be me "behaving badly" and "making personal attacks" because all their uber polite mud slinging was in accordance with the rules and blah blah blah.

I have a serious medical condition and I've spent years getting myself healthier. This literally gets me accused of being insane and I've been thrown off of various forums where the mods told me that the people saying horribly shitty things to me in violation of the rules were fine and I was the problem. I get told "If that's true, where are the studies?" and when I can only say "This is my first-hand experience. There are no studies." it gets completely dismissed as anecdotal and no one on the planet is at all interested in what the hell I know and the entire world basically wants me to shut the fuck up entirely on the topic, which makes no sense to me whatsoever for a world that claims to want to help people like me to be healthier. There is zero curiosity at all in what I've done, what I think about those experiences, etc.

I know a lot about moderation and people tend to not want to hear that either. See above about how much time I've spent in therapy. When the truth hurts and I'm the person who spoke the truth without realizing it was some humongous freaking secret, welp, off with her head. And I also don't really understand that at all because if what is being done currently sucks, it seems to me people would welcome better information. But they mostly don't when it comes to certain topics. Instead, they would rather keep doing what they are doing now rather than hear "You could do something different from that and here are a few suggestions I have."

I've spent a whole lot of years trying to learn to talk about certain things well, things that are touchy subjects. And just this year I've had a few things do decently in terms of traffic.

But I remain stymied because I cannot fathom how people continue to think a) I don't have any knowledge worth any money at all, meanwhile I periodically get glowing praise for my forum comments in spite of actively trying to discourage such because public praise tends to go weird places socially and b) the whole "writers are producing crap" thing isn't related to the low pay for the industry.

To me, these things are very obviously interrelated. If I could spend my time focusing on doing quality work for a few websites of mine instead of scrambling to come up with enough freelance income, I think I could provide some of that quality content people claim they want.

And anytime I talk about this, it basically gets framed by other people like I'm just whining instead of people hearing "Look, if you actually want quality writing, here is a person who is capable of doing quality writing and can't make enough money from it to support themselves adequately. Here is a concrete example of this very problem and a potential opportunity to begin solving it."

But that seems to get interpreted as me "panhandling the internet" and soft begging for funds rather than me saying "I have literally spent decades trying to figure out how one can provide solid content and get enough money from that to make that their main focus during the day and I can't make it freaking work."

It's late. I'm tired. I've been saying these things for literally years until I'm blue in the face and there seems to be no path forward. People just here "The bitch wants money from me. Not my problem. Moving on." and utterly fail to hear "This person right in front of you has been wrestling with this very question for literally decades and can't find a solution. And she's smart and stuff. Maybe it's systemic and not the fault of the writers/editors/scapegoat du jour."

This comment no doubt sounds like a rant. All my efforts to follow the stated and unstated rules in life, the universe and everything just feel like a freaking straight jacket forbidding me from actually making a point to people who absolutely don't want the point made because they want their excellent writing done by slave labor and don't want that fact pointed out.

Because after all these years, I feel like if that were not the case, somehow, somewhere along the way, something would have given. Because I don't need a fuckton of money. I'm not looking to get crazy rich. I would just like to eat every day (and have a few other essentials covered) and can't manage that much.

So I think I probably need to walk away from this discussion at this time because it just feels like it makes me look bad (even though it shouldn't) and accomplishes nothing whatsoever. I've literally been saying the same things on HN for years and years and it apparently makes no difference whatsoever. I keep hearing the same rebuttals and I keep feeling like a lone voice howling into the void.

>The TLDR: If you want actual good writing, you should be trying to figure out how to reward writers who write well. If you don't want to in any way, shape or form whatsoever (because most people on HN use ad blockers) let them get paid somehow, don't be all shocked when the writing goes to shit.

I don't think anyone disagrees with this overarching point whatsoever.

My disagreement lies in the assertion that journalists are underpaid. Their pay is a reflection of the revenue they generate for their publishers, which itself is a reflection of the engagement their content provides for that publisher to monetize through ads, subscriptions or one-off purchases.

The demand for quality journalism is now low, hence it generates little money and therefore those involved in it are rewarded little. I agree with you in that if people want quality journalism, they should pay for their content in some form. However, even if you got the entirety of the hackernews readership to pay for a subscription, you would not put a dent in the overall direction journalism is traveling in.

Another option would be to have the government subsidize outlets, as is done in the UK with the BBC, Canada with CBC, Ireland with RTE, etc etc. This effort will be at the mercy of the taxpayer and can only provide so many jobs, and due to the nature of being state controlled will be subjected to, or dismissed entirely because of, claims of bias or propaganda.

When the internet is pumping out limitless, "free" content, much of which uses manipulative behaviour to maximize engagement, mainstream outlets polarize politically and in doing so ostracize half their potential readership base, people's attention spans are continually shortening and intellectual curiosity shallowing, it's no surprise that quality will suffer hugely.

It may be fair to say that it could well be beyond rescue at this point.

But just an FYI: I maintain subscriptions to several newspapers and magazines. I'm personally more than happy to pay for the content I enjoy.

Their pay is a reflection of the revenue they generate for their publishers, which itself is a reflection of the engagement their content provides for that publisher to monetize through ads, subscriptions or one-off purchases.

Lots of people use ad blockers. The HN crowd is particularly bad about this.

People on HN actively look for ways to get around pay walls. Just to be clear since everyone seems to routinely assume that I'm making a moral argument, I don't use paywalls for my content and I don't have a big problem with people looking for ways around them. I'm just pointing out that they aren't exactly working well for people trying to monetize a thing that involves publishing writing.

People also have a very big problem with writing used as a means to get you to make purchases of some sort, aka content marketing. People are understandably suspicious of writing whose goal is to get you to buy a thing so the writer and publisher can pay their own bills.

I'm glad you have subscriptions. Good for you. But as someone who has put time into developing good writing, gets lots of feedback that I write well and my writing is "valued" but who continues to fail to find some means to adequately monetize my writing, I find all these arguments ridiculous.

I would love to go Get A Real Job like everyone keeps telling me to do. Or even make an app, though I can't manage to get actual coding related questions answered here.*

I've been here over a decade. HN gets over 5 million visitors a month. Between my old handle and this one, I have nearly 50k karma, which presumably is a proxy for "member of the community in good standing whose participation is valued."

And I still can't get what I need, which makes me slightly suspicious that it basically can't be done at all given the state of the world. So, to my mind, saying (essentially) journalists "just need to write better" amounts to victim blaming.

* https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21677535

About coding questions, there is kinda a secret. Especially to people new to coding. IRC. I cant count (ok.. I could and it would be a big number) how many times the fantastic people on freenode#python have helped me out. Ask a well formed question, pastebin your example and what you tried, and I promise someone will help you out. It's the closest thing we have to a magic bottle.

O ya, and use Linux. You wont regret it. Dont spend your valuable time developing for a closed system, if you cant open the hood, dont drive the car:)

As for your drawing app question:

1. That's a big project to start from scratch. I write quite a bit of py, and it would take me years (because I would build it on independent primatives, writing and perfecting each).

2. If you really want to take a shot at it, find a py code base that is "closest" to what you actually want to do, and modify it. Often, I gotta start modifying something to even realize _what_ I want it to do.

3. I dont recommend JS. Sure you can make real apps that run independent of the browser, but it's going to be a harder road I promise. Stick to what the scientific community uses (drop into C if necessary [it's not]) because we often just "need to get it done" and py does that beautifully.

-----------EDIT: I hit my comment limit for the night, so here is a reply to your reply:)

There is no secret handshake:) I dont know where you were, but in pro-irc enviroments, people are relatively professional. #python is for sure. Almost nobody shows up and mentions gender btw. There are communication differences that are more common between guys, so that's easier for me for example, but you really _must_ have thick skin. Stuff that sounds dismissive is often just fast or frank advice, OR your question is too vague. Lurk a bit and observe. If you dont get a response, wait and improve your question and ask again. sometimes it takes a day for me to get an answer if it's a difficult topic, or I havent figured out how to ask it in a way that makes sense to other people. Dont assume anyone knows you are a woman, and while I appreciate it when someone makes it clear, especially if they want me to take it into account as there are communication norms that are just different (for some people!) you may find it easier to just not mention it. Or just clue it with your nic. IDK. Dont get stuck on that:) If you are getting a negative vibe, dont reply in-kind.

As for freenode, here is the cliffnotes (look for a irc intro/howto and read it over).

1. find a open source irc client (I use weechat) 2. /connect irc.freenode.net 2. follow the on screen instructions to register your nic-name 4. /join #python 5. ask specific question. put some work into it. if you just want advice, say that.

yep py is short for python (my github is in my profile, I think everything there is py) Often big graphics apps (like gimp) are written in C++. I dont recommend a beginner go down that route. A nice list: https://github.com/vinta/awesome-python

If it's not FOSS, then you cant modify it and/or you cant share your modifications.

No problem:) This stuff is tough, it took me as least as long to learn it as it takes to become a good writer (I started on a Apple II in the 80's). As you get better, you learn _how_ to learn it faster. I sometimes spend a day on a single simple (in retrospect after you solve it!) problem. Learn to put it on hold and try another angle or a different problem. If I get stuck I open vi (the linux txt editor) and make a outline of what I want to be able to do.

And _really_ use Linux. You will thank yourself later. Debian is a good intro. Personally I use (and cant live without) Gentoo, but the learning curve is steeper (but worth it!).

---- EDIT #2

I havent tried these, but they look like good starts: https://pythonprogramming.net/kivy-drawing-application-tutor...

https://docs.python.org/3/library/turtle.html (I especially like this one because it's in the python standard library and looks like a fantastic way to get into the basics)

Also checkout the game frameworks in that curated list above.

It gets fun:) Stick to python3 only. I like this series: https://github.com/ubarredo/LearnPythonTheHardWay

Also youtube has endless linux/python tutorials. That's a great way to see people using it in action.


I never learned this secret handshake and have no idea where to start because I'm a woman and my first-hand experience is that "chat" environments = horrifying levels of shitty sexual harassment. So I would need more instructions than "freenode is awesome!"

find a py code base

I am assuming you mean Python. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Also, where might I look for a Python drawing app code base I might have some hope of playing with? Does it need to be FOSS?

Also thank you very much for this comment.

Edit in reply to your edit:

Thanks so much. Have noted the link to your comment.

Being down voted only proves my point. News and journalism is Orwellian, and the masses generally have no idea they're being duped.

You're being downvoted for your use of the term "MSM," which ironically is a term used by fake news sites like Infowars to try and legitimize their own deceit.

Again. The irony is fitting. The confirmation bias runs deep on HN, even if many pretend it doesn't. The votes either way have no value. It's as if fake fear should be enough to coddle the duped.

Are you claiming that Infowars is a legitimate news source?

You are the only one talking about it. MSM means mainstream (aka mockingbird) news. It's not like IW invented the acronym.

They may have not invented it, but their fans parrot the term so much that it's pretty much become a calling card.

I'm surprised there hasn't been a anti-news backlash against the tabloidization of news media, even formerly respectable outlets like the NYT.

Aaron Swartz was truly prescient

There are some other notable figures who've spoken out against the news entertainment industry, e.g. Nassim Taleb - probably also others that I'm not familiar with.

And look what they turned Reddit into.

Schwartz would have been appalled at the ads, AMA manipulation, censorship.

>But the story they have been pushing front and center for the last few years now is the idea that all news sources and websites other than big media are somehow suspect, dangerous, untrustworthy, fake.

No, they haven't. If you pay attention to any mainstream media source you'll see that they all eagerly (sometimes to their detriment) incorporate web and social media content into their coverage, and maintain active presence on multiple social media platforms. It's a myth that "big media" is terrified of the web - far from it. They see the web as a cheap and easy way to farm content and cut costs. There hasn't been a meaningful distinction between "old" and "new" media for years now.

The only story similar to the one you describe that's being pushed is that the all mainstream news sources are dangerous, untrustworthy and fake, entirely co-opted by corporate interests and a political agenda, and that only the web can be trusted... when the web is even more deeply co-opted by those elements than the mainstream media.

You cannot judge the web as a group. To say "the web is even more deeply co-opted" you put forth a notion that has no useful meaning. The web is made up of everybody. So you should expect every kind of information, mostly unprofessional, mostly off the cuff and less researched. Some manipulative propaganda. Some conspiracy theories. And you should also expect some brilliant stuff out there as well.

OTOH, you might expect the corporate media to also come from broadly different perspectives. Yet the corporate media output is strangely uniform in their bias, narrative and messaging ("The walls are closing in!... this marks the beginning of the end!") The appearance of Fox news made this blatently obvious, and was an utter shock to the left to see how deep the chasm was between typical right wing thinking and their own thinking. The fact that corporate media is so uniform in their viewpoint (other than fox) raises the hackles of skeptical folk like myself, and has for me been impossible to ignore since the mid 1980s. I'm not calling it a conspiracy, I'm calling it uniform enough that you shouldn't consider a story more likely true just because you heard it from multiple corporate media sources. For one: they cheat off of each other.

You don't have to look far to see how the news media is co-opted by political agenda. NYT Dean Baquet was caught on tape instructing his journalism team that for the next period, stories were all to be about racism and how Trump is responsible for racism. Slate broke that story. The next day I can't remember the exact headline but I think it was on budget cuts or something and they managed to blame it on Racism and the racism they blamed on Trump. It was laugh out loud funny -- how could budget cuts be due to racism? It was very sad.

On any given day, in any newspaper, I can point out the manipulative nation-damaging bias clear as day.

ObExample: Today, New York Times: "How a Divided Left is Losing the Battle on Abortion." This story fails to mention the most important context, context that they have repeatedly failed to mention for so long that most people are unaware of it: Abortion is not a federal issue. The 10th amendment explicitly lays out what the Federal government is allowed to do. The 1973 Roe vs Wade decision was atrocious in that it utterly overstepped the federal government's constitutional bounds. That decision is a null and void opinion of an institution that has no jurisdiction over the matter. Regardless of what you feel about abortion law (personally I think us men should leave it up to the women, but if pressed I'd be happy with a 20 week cutoff), the collapse of the fundemental underpinnings of the United States is a much bigger story, rarely if ever mentioned by corporate media. Instead they evoke images of coat hangers to get you all emotional, frame it as a human "reproductive" right to make you indignant, and use other framing tactics which speak to and draw people into the left's vision.

CLARIFICATION: I randomly picked a story. I can do that with any story, because they are all like that.

The state of ads on the internet right now feels like the state of popups in ~2000. I hope the whole industry gets destroyed by some benevolent legislation.

I hope it’s a better business model! Last thing I want is more regulation adding administrative costs to business.

Popups got destroyed by better clients, so can ads in general if clients are able to be modified by their users.

The convention of using proprietary apps on mobile phones and TVs prevents that, but desktops where "all" content is accessed using the browser is already mostly free of ads, for those who are bothered by them.

Google, Facebook, etc can kill this off by requiring a 90 initial day payout for new news sites and also requiring a deposit that can be forfeit if the site is violating their ToS.

Facebook wants to actively encourage this as their strategy is to push fake news so the GOP gets into the Whitehouse again as Sanders/Warren have threatened to break up FB.

Isnt this a self correcting problem? I guess the first time advertisements were introduced, people were incredibly susceptible to misleading advertising. Overtime you learnt that almost everything they claim could be wrong and you tune them out. They become much less potent.

We are just living in a perfect storm, with the internet just taking off mainstream, and people are susceptible to believing online trends translate to reality. If you are in niche communities, hiring an artificial botting firm might provide insane rewards. But over time, as more people see the disconnect they will understand not to trust anything online.

I feel people getting burnt and changing their behavior organically is far better than a benevolent organization stepping in and making arbitrary decisions to protect us. Because these organizations do not tend to be benevolent and even if they are, their decisions often have disastrous second order consequences. While the public never learns or evolves.

Its like the body's immunization system. Just give it time. Sometimes it may take a decade. People should really stop trying to make drastic solutions for things that will likely resolve themselves.

From a systemic perspective, this makes sense, but what about the individuals who get burned in the process? Not everyone is willing to write off collateral damage without some kind of repair for the damage.

The problem is, most methods you propose to correct for individuals getting burned, may create more systematic problems, which may result in more individuals getting burned in the long run. These are incredibly complex systems which are not suitable for intelligent design.

The best solution maybe is for individuals and the shared culture to get wiser, and this often happens only when there is enough collateral damage.

Are there any negative externalities from this? If ad fraud is a self-contained cat-and-mouse game between Google and bots, I'm fine with watching from the sidelines.

The costs of advertising are ultimately paid by consumers who buy advertised products. If money is wasted by paying bots to watch ads, you can expect consumers to pay a bit more since it drives up the cost.

Prices aren't -that- efficient. The expected cost of advertising is already baked into the profit margins for large companies, it only hurts smaller ones.

Google doesn’t lose from this (other than brand value), since Google just arbitrages between advertisers and webadmins. Unfortunately, the ‘solution’ to this cat-and-mouse game is increased targeting and surveillance, allowing advertisers to selectively target likely customers from bots.

If we want to wean off of this surveillance economy, both consumers (via ad block) and companies (via organic demand) need to leave the platform. Otherwise we will end up with scams to fill either side of the market. Consumers with Adblock get replaced with bots, companies get replaced by Taboola-style clickbait.

I’m sorry. I’m “fakenews”ed out.

I just watched Newsweek have to fire a “reporter“ for making up a story about Trump tweeting and golfing on Thanksgiving - when in reality he was on AF1 going to Afghanistan to do “Thanksgiving with the troops”. Guess what, that was fakenews and no one fooled me into visiting a site run by Macedonian teens.

In this case Newsweek didn’t fire her because she made up a story, they fired her because she was caught.

Jussy Smolleíte (the French actor), Covington kids, the red scare 2.0, The Mueller, basically everything on CNN for the past three years, everyday a new scandal... I need a break before I even care the slightest bit about what the original definition of fakenews was supposed to be.

Edit: ok, try and silence me. Fine by me, but just wait and see, I’m not the only one that isn’t looking what “legit” media is putting out and what “fakenews” is supposed to be and not seeing a ton of difference. Look at the bottom of the BBC article without an ad blocker if you need more evidence. It’s like you guys want to pretend that “real news” isn’t followed by and voted on by bot networks and push their own ad schemes.

I don't understand the Thanksgiving thing. Trump's official schedule called for him to spend Thanksgiving at his club in Florida. The Newsweek article said that he was going to spend Thanksgiving at the club, and that he would probably spend the day golfing and tweeting.

That he was actually going to Afghanistan was kept secret, and was not revealed until after the Newsweek story was written. The Newsweek story was then updated to include the Afghanistan visit.

How does a reporter get fired over that?

Your comment has little to do with the article.

This article is about posting news stories to make a site look "real" while your bots go to work doing click fraud on the ads.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact