New Trend Micro Report: The Fake News Machine


Trend MicroTrend Micro has released a new report ‘The Fake News Machine: How Propagandists Abuse the Internet and Manipulate the Public’

Fake news was relatively unheard of last year (until the U.S. election campaign period started) during which an explosion of misinformation campaigns trended. But despite its seemingly rampant spread, fake news is just one facet of public opinion manipulation and cyber propaganda that we see today. Whether it’s a company trying to promote a brand or a political party pushing an ideal, today’s information wars are often for control of the public’s worldview.

The report looks closely at the how fake news is produced and sold by members of the underground. It also tackles how a group with means and motivations, use of social media, and online promotion tools and services can effectively spread these campaigns.


  • Indi Siriniwasa, Managing Director, Trend Micro Enterprise & Government  ANZ – is available for interview if you’d like to discuss the report.


The landscape

  • Fake news today is built on three pillars: social networks, motivations and online services. Political and business motivations may remain consistent, but social networks allow amplification of propaganda like never before.
  • Cybercriminals are also capitalizing on the success of fake news by selling it “as a service” in underground markets – allowing anyone to access a range of “promotion as a service” offerings to promote any message that supports their objective.

Underground services

  • Fake news as a Service (FNaaS) offerings are available in cybercriminal underground markets, along with a slew of other “aaS” offerings, including in Russia, China, the Middle East and English-speaking markets
  • FNaaS has common trends, despite regional marketplace difference. These include content creation and distribution, as well as removing or silencing content if needed.
  • FNaaS mirrors content marketing practices used by businesses – articles and social media posts expected to promote organic reach and readership

Different markets cater to the needs of the region in which they’re operated

  • The Chinese underground distributes cyber propaganda-driven content.
  • Russian marketplaces offers services at each stage of a fake news campaign –writing fake press releases, promoting them in news outlets, sustaining the momentum with positive or negative comments / Also leverages crowdfunding/crowdsourcing to manipulate public opinion / Offers specific “online voting” manipulation that impacts votes, competition and polls on social media and other online platforms.

Monetary and financial gains

  • While political motivations may be considered a given, financial motivations are also a major driving force behind fake news campaigns.
  • Monetary outcomes of fake news come both from advertising and the reaction – like fake news supporting donations to a cause. Stock prices can also be influenced by Twitter.



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