In PHD Italy we have reconstructed the supply chain, from the preparation phase to that of monetisation, identifying behind every fake news a very precise and long-term project to keep alive the virality that the fake ‘mother’ has generated. We have found a strong resemblance to the logic and settings of the advertising chain: the definition of a strategy, the creation of messages and contents, the planning, the ability to define the targets, identify the trends, create an attractive form, to reach the goal.
Fortunately, we have also seen that most of the funding that feeds the hoax factory is not from advertising and that the numbers, already small in big markets like the UK, in Italy they are even smaller. Lacking real prevention tools, fake news sites are able to penetrate ad network, eluding blacklist checks, managing to monetise the traffic generated through social networks. This traffic generates impressions that allow fake news creators to earn on advertising investments.
The distribution is the crucial juncture of fake news, mainly through social media, which keeps costs low and preserves anonymity, giving a higher credibility thanks to the P2P approach, and takes advantage of a greater depth both in terms of duration over time and in ability to involve fan bases at all levels.
What are the solutions? There are none in sight, the technology is not up to the level of fact checking, but it is already important to start learning about fake news and to continue to influence media culture. The consumer who shares fake news is certainly not poorly educated or unaware, but fake news travels six times faster than real news and has 70% more sharing potential, so we must continue to search for ways to tackle it.