The headlines are full of how both Facebook and Google were bamboozled into delivering fake news during the past U.S. Election (2016), but for anyone who knows much about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), this is no big surprise. SEO is the pseudo-science (some say snake oil) that causes your searches to make certain articles to come out on the front page of your search pages. Fake Money news is also out there.
Manipulating Facebook, Twitter and Search Engines to bring up “less than scrupulous” news on any topic is not as hard as you might think.
Most folks don’t really understand how search engines work, and how Google, Facebook and many other sites decide what you should look at (and to be clear, they decide what you look at, you have very little choice in the matter). Large companies are out there to market websites so that they get high rankings on the Internet Major Sites (as you can tell, I do not use those firms). There are estimates on how much is spent on SEO, and it is now in the Billions of Dollars worldwide (I am also including folks who pay for advertising on Google, Facebook, Twitter and other sites). Who has that kind of money to get Fake Money News in front of you? You would be surprised to see who spends money on it.
Go to your favourite search engine and type in
I need money
Look at what sites come up first. Many short-term loan and Pay Day loan companies, because they pay good money to get on that first page. They want to find you, and they want you to find them first! Are these the right sites for you to look at?
People seem to think the Internet is a great and all knowing oracle, but don’t be fooled. It is a business, and how does Google, Facebook, or Twitter make money? Selling search results to the highest bidder. Why do companies pay so much to them? Those Internet Leaders promise that they will deliver customers to the buyers doorstep.
Does this sound like Mad Men to you? That is pretty close, it is yet another spin on the world of Advertising (without the 4 Scotch lunches, and Don Draper-isms).
Yes, you can find a few of my articles around, but you have to look hard. I have tried hard to be on the first page for Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP), but I am nowhere to be seen. Which sites are on the first page on Google? The CRA (which is good), the Banks and then a litany of firms that will help you get your RDSP set up.
If I wanted to manipulate a specific stock putting out fake news to drive the stock down or up could be simply done (and has been done to Apple and other stocks in the past). Having the next sure fire investing method is simple to push, because everyone is looking to get an edge.
What is my point?
You are being manipulated, every time you click on a search result on Google, or an ad on Facebook or Twitter. Someone paid good money (or did some dirty tricks (SEO has Black and White Hats)) for you to see that search (usually), but if you realize that, you are already better off.
Be skeptical about things you read on the web (yes, here too). Get different opinions, different views, use different search engines. You are being sold something every time you look at the Internet, be it news, money advice, travel advice, or so many other topics.
Ted has another angle on this subject: