The fake news phenomenon was going on long before the 2016 elections. While much of it was confined to the far-right, another version of it was being spread by hyperbolic partisan sites on the left, which have exploded since Trump was elected.
When Bernie Sanders announced that he was running for president, groups of spammers in Macedonia turned to infiltrating pro-Bernie Facebook groups, even going so far as to pay off the admins of one to allow their links to be posted there.
Although some of it is definitely motivated by profit from ad revenue from Google AdSense and other ad networks, it isn’t hard to come to the conclusion that they are supported directly or indirectly both by Russian interests, as well as shadow pro-Trump groups.
I belong to a number of political Facebook groups, mostly on the left. I also belong to some pro-Trump groups, mostly to gather intel, as well as to troll the deplorables. The following are unedited screenshots from various liberal groups, of posts spammed by fake and/or foreign accounts in order to spread misinformation.
The profile that posted this, “Julia Blue” is listed as being a male from Skopje, Macedonia.
This profile, also apparently from Macedonia, posted a fake news article into the same group, and was apparently removed, although the link was allowed to remain.
This profile, Al Gagnon, spams links from right-wing and fake news sites into multiple groups. Although I have reported the account many times for hate speech and being false, Facebook has failed to remove it.
Clayton Luce seems to represent GonzoTodayTV, based off the links on his profile. Sharing these posts into both liberal and conservative groups generates reactions, which tricks Facebook’s algorithms into thinking they are popular, regardless of whether they’re real or not.
This is the problem Facebook, and its users, have to address. Although Facebook repeatedly bans my personal profile for relatively harmless infractions, it allows illegitimate accounts to spread false stories and spam with apparently no actions against the sites they represent.
If Mark Zuckerberg is indeed considering running for president as his recent actions suggest, I think it is fair that he get his own company in order first.