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Buzzfeed

Over the past year, Buzzfeed has positioned itself at the forefront of covering fake news and disinformation online, and has become the go-to source for tracking right-wing media and propaganda machines. On Thursday, the viral publisher broke a story about how under former White House advisor Steve Bannon's leadership, Breitbart smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist ideas into the mainstream.

Why it matters: Buzzfeed has turned itself into a formidable source of hard news on digital media trends and viral news — topics the company understands better than anyone.

"BuzzFeed News has a mission to cover all aspects of the internet, and the reality is that rumors, hoaxes, propaganda, and all manner of digital deception are a part of the internet," Craig Silverman, BuzzFeed News Media Editor tells Axios. "So we've taken on a global effort to investigate and debunk the false stuff, as well as to try and reveal who's behind it, and what role platforms and other players have in this whole ecosystem."

InfoWarzel: The company has invested heavily in covering the right-wing media ecosystem. Buzzfeed Reporter Charlie Warzel authors an entire newsletter dedicated to the topic called InfoWarzel.

Fake News scoops: Buzzfeed now employs a half-dozen full-time media reporters and editors, focusing on everything from fake news to news economics to the right-wing media landscape. A few of the highlights:

  • A report on how Macedonia became a global hub for pro-Trump news was one of Barack Obama's favorite pieces last year.
  • A piece on how viral junk election news stories outperformed real news on Facebook shed light on how much Facebook Pages were being used to misinform biased audiences.
  • A report on how hyper-partisan news sites and Facebook pages are created by the same company in Florida provided an example of the economic incentives for fake news perpetrators.

Media and big tech: Buzzfeed has also invested in coverage of today's hottest topic: the growing rift between publishers and big tech companies.

  • Last week's deep-dive on how the rise of platforms has created a demand for cheap information to be created for Americans overseas was one of the first stories to explore fake news machines fueling micro-economies globally.
  • This week, Buzzfeed broke a big story about the Murdoch's charge against Google and Facebook's control of the media.
  • Earlier this month, editor-in-chief Ben Smith's piece on the growing frustration with Silicon Valley became an instant viral hit, shedding light on an ongoing backlash against big tech.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
36 mins ago - Economy & Business

Biden's inflation danger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.