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A Buzzfeed analysis finds that the same Florida company, American News LLC, owns and operates a set of hyper-partisan news sites, including conservative sites like AmericanNews.com and Conservative101.com, and liberal sites like DemocracyReview.com and LiberalSociety.com. Buzzfeed was able to track the sites' owners through their Google AdSense ID's and domain records.

The sites use stock imagery of writers, and often appear to be copying the work of other hyper-partisan blogs. The sites also operate Facebook pages with huge followings that drive monster engagement metrics. Buzzfeed's study finds that these websites use nearly identical content with opposite ideological spins to lure readers to engage with stories, so they can make money off of the traffic.

Why it matters: The findings, which lead to active advertising accounts, affirm other reports that there is a great financial incentive to generate hyper-partisan and often inaccurate news.

Who's to blame? Google and Facebook both run automated advertising platforms that enable just about any website to monetize its content, given that they earn enough traffic to sell ads against. Publishers are learning that one of the fastest ways to generate traffic is to cater to Facebook's emotionally-driven algorithm and Google's keyword algorithm with outrageous, hyper-partisan content. Both companies (Google, Facebook) have taken steps to curb fake news sites from monetizing off of false and misleading content, but it's hard to regulate at scale without violating free speech laws.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
4 mins ago - Economy & Business

GM's shrinking deal with Nikola

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

General Motors will no longer take an equity stake in Nikola Corp. or build its pickup truck, under a revised deal that still envisions GM as a key tech supplier for Nikola's planned line of electric and fuel cell heavy trucks.

Driving the news: The revised agreement Monday is smaller in scope than a draft partnership rolled out in September that had included a $2 billion stake in the startup and an agreement to build its Badger pickup.

52 mins ago - Technology

Exclusive: Facebook's blackout didn't dent political ad reach

Photo: Valera Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americans saw more political ads on Facebook in the week before the 2020 election than they did the prior week despite the company's blackout on new political ads during that period, according to Global Witness, a human rights group that espouses tech regulation.

Why it matters: The presidential election was a key stress test for Facebook and other leading online platforms looking to prove that they can curb misinformation. Critics contend measures like the ad blackout barely made a dent.

Wall Street wonders how bad it has to get

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is working out how bad the economy will have to get for Congress to feel motivated to move on economic support.

Why it matters: A pre-Thanksgiving data dump showed more evidence of a floundering economic recovery. But the slow drip of crumbling economic data may not be enough to push Washington past a gridlock to halt the economic backslide.