Fake local news sites have affected legitimate news providers in the cities of Albany and Edmonton, according to a recent article from BuzzFeed.
The websites were likely created as a way to gain ad revenue.
Craig Silverman reports that they "have not been updated in months, have no employees associated with them, and list no larger corporate entity. Theirhomepages are filled with bland, out-of-date rewrites of local stories first reported by realnewsoutlets. Beyond the homepage, the sites are chock-full of old celebrity content that has nothing to do with the cities they supposedly cover. They do not have active social media accounts, nor do they list an office address or any contact details."
The existence of pages like these is a problem when it takes views away from legitimate local news, an industry that has already been struggling to keep up in the digital era.
Additionally, the issues mentioned in the paragraph above are important things to evaluate when you are looking at a website. Try to find out who made it, what their agenda may be, and when it was last updated.
You can learn more about this issue from our handy News Literacy guide.
If you need more info on how to sort out the web's trash from its treasure, don't hesitate to Ask a Librarian.