People who caught the sites plagiarizing began speculating about the motivations of whoever was running them. One person noticed that their Google Alerts for Julian Assange were flooded with results from the sites, leading them to warn that “cyber marketing tools are being used in the propaganda war against #WikiLeaks.” One researcher labeled the network of sites “a malicious information operation masquerading as a news aggregator.”
Neither was the case. In fact, the plagiarized sites are part of an operation run by a North Carolina man with a background in the financial information industry. And the motivation is simple: money.
A BuzzFeed News investigation has identified a network of roughly 100 sites dating back to at least 2015 that have been plagiarizing stories from major news organizations, masquerading as local news and financial outlets, and manipulating Google News and search results to earn money through ads, through financial email subscriptions, or by referring people to dubious investments. — Craig Silverman, Buzzfeed News