About that raid on the Newsweek servers . . .

 

Step one: create the Consumer Fraud Protection Bureau, because who could be against protecting consumers from fraud? What are you, some sort of right-wing Social Darwinist?

Step two: give the CFPB lots of money to raise awareness about fraud and protection and consumers. It’s not enough, of course. If there’s fraud next year, that’s just proof the budget should be doubled.

Step three: throw some of that money to a company described as “a top Democratic media strategist.”

Step four:

“The publisher of Newsweek and the International Business Times has been engaging in fraudulent online traffic practices that helped it secure a major ad buy from a US government agency, according to a new report released today by independent ad fraud researchers.

IBTimes.com, the publisher’s US business site, last year won a significant portion of a large video and display advertising campaign for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency. Social Puncher, a consulting firm that investigates online ad fraud, alleges in its report that the ads were displayed to an audience on IBTimes.com that includes a significant amount of “cheap junk traffic with a share of bots.”

Yes, it seems Newsweek — once the Pepsi to Time’s Coke, with US News and World Reports filling the role of RC Cola — was ginning up its stats with those miserable banes of the internet experience, pop-up and pop-under ads. Even better: the ads appeared on video pirating sites, which means the consumer-fraud protection ads were displayed to consumers engaged in intellectual property theft.

Behold the murky economics of annoyware:

BuzzFeed News documented the same practice on IBTimes.co.in, the Indian edition of the site. After browsing to Kissanime.ru and pressing play on a pirated anime video, a new browser tab opened up automatically. It first loaded a domain for the PopAds ad network before redirecting to Newsplatter.com, and finally landing on IBTimes.co.in.

Newsplatter is a website that appears to exist solely to route traffic from ad networks to IBT India. SimilarWeb data show the site had no traffic until it sprung to life in July 2017, racking up over 20 million visits since then. Even though the homepage of the site features auto-generated links to stories from a variety of media outlets, SimilarWeb found that 99% of its outgoing traffic is directed to IBT India.

Newsweek is graveyard-dead as a brand, which you probably knew — but the subterranean botnet machinations of this peculiar economy are fascinating.

There are 15 comments.

  1. Judge Mental Member

    Last time they sold Newsweek for a dollar. What do you think it brings next time?

    • #1
    • February 1, 2018, at 11:10 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Last time they sold Newsweek for a dollar. What do you think it brings next time?

    Pestilence with a 20% chance of locusts.

    • #2
    • February 1, 2018, at 11:51 PM PDT
    • 18 likes
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    I cannot even be surprised anymore.

    • #3
    • February 2, 2018, at 2:42 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    You do realize that this is government action against a news media and an example of Trump’s war on the media.

    • #4
    • February 2, 2018, at 4:51 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. The Reticulator Member

    Your tax dollars at work.

    • #5
    • February 2, 2018, at 6:50 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. Nick H Coolidge

    James Lileks: Newsweek – once the Pepsi to Time’s Coke, with US News and World Reports filling the role of RC Cola

    “What flavor would you like your left wing slanted news served in?”

    “I’ll take a Diet Newsweek. Just make sure that if there’s a George Will column in the back it’s removed first.”

    Good analogy.

    So, Elizabeth Warren’s pet bureaucracy was spending a bunch of our money on ads that only bots saw, and paying top dollar for it because of the high number of bots? I’m shocked, shocked I say. That’s our government. Can’t even do corruption competently. Fascinating indeed.

    • #6
    • February 2, 2018, at 7:39 AM PDT
    • 17 likes
  7. dnewlander Member

    James Lileks: Newsweek is graveyard-dead as a brand, which you probably knew – but the subterranean botnet machinations of this peculiar economy are fascinating.

    Acquaintances of mine post links to “damning” anti-Trump, anti-Republican, and, frankly, anti-American Newsweek “articles” all the time. So someone’s reading it.

    • #7
    • February 2, 2018, at 7:59 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    The CFPB is only supposed to protect Consumer Fraud, not perpetrate it.

    • #8
    • February 2, 2018, at 12:31 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Titus Techera Contributor

    Who said crimes cannot be an act of patriotism?

    • #9
    • February 2, 2018, at 12:41 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Who said crimes cannot be an act of patriotism?

    If treason doth prosper…

    • #10
    • February 2, 2018, at 12:44 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Titus Techera Contributor

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Who said crimes cannot be an act of patriotism?

    If treason doth prosper…

    I was thinking more about contraband running…

    • #11
    • February 2, 2018, at 1:09 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Joseph Stanko Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Last time they sold Newsweek for a dollar. What do you think it brings next time?

    One Zimbabwean dollar.

    • #12
    • February 2, 2018, at 1:18 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  13. Ray Kujawa Coolidge

    So they’re committing fraud essentially with American taxpayer dollars, taking money to put out useless advertising as many places as possible, even where it will do no good, in order the crank up the statistics on views so they can say it’s working. The message is getting out.

    I might be mistaken, but I believe the internet porn industry was pioneering with these popup ads. Since when does fighting fraud with fraud work?

    • #13
    • February 2, 2018, at 1:34 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. barbara lydick Coolidge

    dnewlander (View Comment):
    Acquaintances of mine post links to “damning” anti-Trump, anti-Republican, and, frankly, anti-American Newsweek “articles” all the time. So someone’s reading it.

    For some reason, your comment reminds me of a poli sci course I took in college (about 50 yrs ago!!). The Prof was from Eastern Europe – and very happy to be in the US. Someone asked him, of Time and Newsweek which was more biased. Will never forget his answer. After just few seconds he replied, “Well, of the two, the left-leaning bias is easier to spot in Newsweek.” (Wonder what he would think of the MSM were he still with us today…)

    • #14
    • February 2, 2018, at 3:37 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. ParisParamus Member

    Have you seen Newsweek’s twitter feed? Is a sick vomiting of left wing garbage 24/7

    • #15
    • February 3, 2018, at 10:17 AM PDT
    • Like