Across the spectrum of right-wing media—from Trump’s own concise lies on Twitter to the organized prevarication of Breitbart News and National Report.net—ideology beat back the truth.
What Veles produced, though, was something more extreme still: an enterprise of cool, pure amorality, free not only of ideology but of any concern or feeling about the substance of the election.
This is the arrhythmic, disturbing heart of the affair: that the internet made it so simple for these young men to finance their material whims and that their actions helped deliver such momentous consequences.
in the center of Macedonia, on either side of the Vardar River, and its red-shingle-roofed buildings appear to be climbing the slopes of low knuckled hills.
In the final weeks of the US presidential election, Veles attained a weird infamy in the most powerful nation on earth; stories in and on Buzz Feed revealed that the Macedonian town of 55,000 was the registered home of at least 100 pro-Trump websites, many of them filled with sensationalist, utterly fake news.
(The imminent criminal indictment of Hillary Clinton was a popular theme; another was the pope’s approval of Trump.) The sites’ ample traffic was rewarded handsomely by automated advertising engines, like Google’s Ad Sense.
In August, Boris set up Politics Hall.com, and a couple of months later, he added to his portfolio. After publishing a piece, he shared the link in Facebook groups with names like My America, My Home; the Deplorables; and Friends Who Support President Donald J. Trump groups seemed to have hundreds of thousands more members than Clinton groups, which made it simpler to propel an article into virality. “It isn’t interesting anymore.” Which is just as well, because on November 24, after an eruption of concern about the malign effects of fake news, Google suspended the ads from his websites.
He listens to a lot of gangsta rap: the Notorious B. G., Puff Daddy, Wu-Tang Clan; after watching , the 2009 biopic of B. G., he decided he would like to visit Brooklyn, a New York City borough he imagines overrun more by gangsters than hipsters.
Now he bought a succession of domains from Go Daddy—GossipKnowledge.com, then Daily Interesting Things.com—built basic Word Press sites, and stuffed them with sports, celebrity, health, and political news, the articles all pilfered from elsewhere.
(Boris pulls out his phone and logs into Word Press to show that he does, in fact, own the sites he mentions.) When the piece about Trump slapping a man turned briefly white-hot, he sensed the intrinsic viral potential in the American election and founded New York Times Politics.com, a website that resembled sent Boris a cease-and-desist order; Boris received the email when he was out somewhere, and he was so terrified that he took down the website right away, from his phone. Several times a day he dredged the internet for pro-Trump articles and copied them into one of his two websites; if Java Script prevented an easy copy-paste, he opened a Notepad file and typed the articles out. ” he says, making a gesture with his hand as if hailing a bartender. You must live once.” Boris still goes to the clubs, but he says he has lost his taste for expensive things.
An article in Within Veles itself, the young entrepreneurs behind these websites became subjects of tantalizing intrigue.
Between August and November, Boris earned nearly ,000 off his two pro-Trump websites. Boris is 18 years old, a lean, slouching youth with gray eyes, hair mowed close to his skull, and the rudiments of a beard.
“Bernie Sanders supporters are among the smartest people I’ve seen,” he says. The post must have proof for them to believe it.”) He posted under his own name but also under the guise of one of 200 or so bogus Facebook profiles that he’d purchased for this purpose. ” In one of the Facebook groups where Boris shared the link, the post received 292 shares and 361 responses. But then the Google ads vanished, so Boris lost interest and consigned his websites to the deep oblivion of the internet.