A Network Of Facebook Pages Used Fake News To Sell Kitchen Gadgets

By Jane Lytvynenko

Facebook / Screenshot

A Facebook video titled “UPDATE: Cop Who Arrested Malia Obama Found Dead Under Suspicious Circumstances” began spreading last month from one Facebook page to the next. It popped up on e-commerce pages with names like Cyber Monday and EShopping Bazar, as well as on fashion-oriented Facebook pages like Its Pretty and Fashion Foundry.

The video’s title is copied from a completely false story published on a website that exclusively traffics in fake news articles. But the video itself had nothing to do with the hoax story.

Anyone clicking the play button was treated to a two-minute commercial for a kitchen cutter tool, complete with an upbeat harmonica soundtrack. In the video’s description, the pages sharing it posted a link to let people know they could purchase the device for themselves, which led to a site called trendyarrival.com.

Facebook / Screenshot

The pages using the fake headline to sell a kitchen gadget are part of a network of more than 40 pages identified by BuzzFeed News that have been using every trick in the online scam playbook to build an audience and make money on Facebook. They post pictures of people with disabilities and beg fans to like and comment on them in order to help the posts spread further, thereby attracting new fans for the page. They publish images and videos with inspirational quotes or stories asking for sympathy. And, yes, they share fake news articles.

The network appears to be largely geared towards driving traffic to a group of websites, at least one of which earned money from Google’s lucrative AdSense advertising network. (The site appears to have been removed from AdSense after BuzzFeed News contacted Google for comment.) The network of pages and related websites illustrates how scammers, spammers, and other malicious actors operate in plain sight and continue to exploit social platforms and ad networks using a variety of tactics.

The person, or people, running this particular group of pages and sites appears to be enjoying some success: In the last month, the link to buy the kitchen slicer has been clicked on 11,600 times, according to stats from Bit.ly.

BuzzFeed News provided Facebook with an initial list of 10 of the 44 pages involved in the same activity. The social network shut down those 10 pages, saying that they violated a policy that states, “Pages must not contain false, misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive claims or content.”

The company then banned an additional 29 pages for similar violations, according to a person familiar with Facebook’s actions. As of today, 22 of the pages initially identified by BuzzFeed News remain online but no longer have misleading or false content on their timelines.

“We rely on a combination of automated detection systems, as well as reports from the community, to help identify suspicious activity on the platform and ensure compliance with our policies,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “In this case, we responded to a community report from a reporter. …read more

Source: news Us

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