Investigative team Sadbottrue has own technologies for data gathering and for meta-analysis of big data. We focused on findings and explanation of anomalies that influence on the tech companies. We are fighting against the social media and advertising fraud ecosystem.
Chapter 16. The Feed, the Fraud and the Profit
The true story
In our previous article that describes followers of 156 bots, quoted by Trump, we did not mention one interesting account. It follows the 31 of the 156 accounts and it is a news feed. It is strange, isn’t it? Let's take a closer look at this.
@pzf This is a news aggregator that doesn’t produce its own content.
Besides the news, it publishes links to affiliate online store pzdeals.com
PZfeed follows 11.7K accounts, over 4,000 of them are fake Trump supporters. Many of them have already been mentioned in our previous articles. There is no reason for the serious online media to be associated with the political botnet.
In fact, a year ago, all these "people" did not know that they would be Trump supporters. Those accounts was an imitation of the common users, interested in news and entertainment content.
During next 6 months, they changed the profile picture, added #MakeAmericaGreatAgain to the description and began to show unprecedented interest in politics, more precisely, a particular politician and his support team. This botnet existed long before Trump decided to run. When his team needed supporters on Twitter, these bots gladly agreed.
Among pro-Trump botnet, we have found accounts that have no logical explanation. @pzf/following
This is a Russian inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov, the creator of the AK-47. The background photo is the world's worst airshow disaster occurred on July 27, 2002, at Lviv International Airport, Ukraine. 85 people were killed, and over 100 injured. If you look inside the account, you'll see a video with A. Hitler. Don’t ask us, why this account is followed by Breaking News Feed.
PZfeed has 298K followers, 144K of them is the part of “dead botnet”, which was described in our early articles. The other half is more advanced bots, but their activity can be described in three words you have already known: retweets, hashtags, likes. Ok, who needs a news feed, which read only the bots? Or rather, who is spending resources to hold this project and what benefits he expects?Most of the tweets contain the link to the websitepzfeed.comMaybe it helps answer this question.
Well, the images are not loaded. Regular visitors don’t pay attention to it. They really don’t care. The site has no such pages like “About us”, “Team”, “Contacts”. Among the authors of the articles are just three names, and they wrote dozens of hundreds of "articles".Oh, these articles are absolute masterpieces. The average article consists of two sentences. Long-read can be up to three or four ones.
Here is the male version of the article.
Female page looks like this.
It is unclear why these unwanted news spoils such a beautiful advertising.
According to service easycounter.com, the main audience of the site is the users from the United States.
The number of daily visitors allows it get the top 100,000 most popular websites in the world.
Monthly traffic analysis shows abnormal activity in January 2016.
Nobody knows, who is the real owner of the site. Domain by proxy, LLC is the nominal owner, which is used to hide the real beneficiaries. The company, which provides this service, is affiliated with registrar GoDaddy.com. Domain by proxy, LLC is the holder of 10.5 millions of domains. For comparison, only about 82 million domains are registered in the United States.
The site has one advertising and one recommendation systems.
DoubleClickis a subsidiary of Google which develops and provides Internet ad serving services. Its clients include agencies, marketers (Universal McCann, AKQA etc.) and publishers who serve customers like Microsoft, General Motors, Coca-Cola, Motorola, L'Oréal, Palm, Inc., Apple Inc., Visa USA, Nike, Carlsberg among others.en.wikipedia.org. DoubleClick acquiredby Googleon March 11, 2008, for US$3.1 billion
Taboolais a content marketing platform that provides a web widget to content creators on their website to offer additional links to related articles, videos, and slideshows, both from within the site and from other publishers. Taboola serving 300B recommendations to over 750M unique visitors each month. Clients include BBC, USA Today, and the Boston Globe.en.wikipedia.org. Total Equity Funding $160M in 7 Rounds from 14Investors
How to profit by fake views of digital advertising.
1. You should create an account in a social network, buy followers, configure automatic updates.
2. Then you should create a website and install a content aggregator.
3. Next, you need to send fake traffic from the social network to your website. To prove the real presence of the human audience you can show thousands of followers.
4. After that, you should sign the contract with the advertising system.
5. As a result, you just neet to get the money and to avoid been caught.
1. Who is the real beneficiary of pzfeed.com and how much it earns?
2. How many similar sites exist on the web?
3. How much is total payments for them from digital advertisers?