“新闻软文,” or “News-style soft article.” Want to discredit a journalist? That’ll be $55,000. 100,000 real people’s signatures on a Change.org petition? $6,000. And those Chinese “soft articles” can be gotten for as little as USD $15. The folks at security software company Trend Micro studied Chinese, Russian, Arabic/Middle Eastern, and English marketplaces and found that “everything from social media promotions, creation of fake comments, and even online vote manipulation [is] sold at very reasonable prices. Surprisingly, we found that fake news campaigns aren’t always the handiwork of autonomous bots, but can also be carried out by real people via large, crowdsourcing programs.” The report, “The fake news machine: How propagandists abuse the
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