Hundreds of websites registered in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia are cashing in on the lucrative US right wing ad market by spreading conspiracy theories and fake news reports designed to appeal to Donald Trump supporters.
The websites, registered in the Macedonian town of Veles, have American-sounding names, such as usconservativetoday.com and usadailypolitics.com.
Fake news stories claiming, for example, that Hillary Clinton will be arrested or the Pope backs Trump's candidacy, are generated by the sites. They are 'liked' and shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook, earning the sites thousands of dollars in ad revenue.
Buzzfeed identified more than 100 US politics sites based in Veles, some with Facebook pages with hundreds of thousands of followers. One student in Veles told the site he can earn up to $3,000 a day spreading pro-Trump clickbait which often gets more shares and other interactions than genuine news reports.
Another student named as Teador Indov, 22, told Meta, the Macedonian news agency: "Some of the news I write and other parts I take from other websites. I then translate them. I really don't know if what I translate from other websites is true or not, I am only doing this because of the Google Ads."
Another told Buzzfeed that the ad revenue goes a long way in Veles.
"I started the site for a easy way to make money," said a 17-year-old who runs a site with four other people. "In Macedonia the economy is very weak and teenagers are not allowed to work, so we need to find creative ways to make some money. I'm a musician but I can't afford music gear. Here in Macedonia the revenue from a small site is enough to afford many things."
According to the report, the sites experimented with left-wing conspiracy theories, but these did not generate as much interest as those with a right-wing angle.