The Columbia Journalism School has been investigating the proliferation of “local news” sites that are mostly machine generated, authored by free-lancers in Africa or the Philippines, and generously sprinkled with hard-fine far-right extremist talking points on nixing public education or supporting Trump policies.
The researchers, outline their findings and methodology in a new article.
On the surface, the sites seem to have no apparent connection to each other, but the researchers found links between them with IP address registrations and shared analytics IDs. Altogether, there are at least 450 of these sites targeted at local communities around the country or specialized interests, such as farmers or attorneys.
Who’s behind these sites? What are they?