The Macedonian Fake News Industry and the 2016 US Election

Heather C. Hughes, Israel Waismel-Manor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the 2016 US presidential election, Americans were exposed to an onslaught of disinformation on social media. Many of the most viral posts originated from Veles, a small town in central Macedonia. During fieldwork in Veles, where we interviewed several residents and disinformation creators, we found that the epicenter of this viral phenomenon was Mirko Ceselkoski, an autodidact social media expert, teacher, and mentor to Veles' fake news operators. We interviewed Ceselkoski and registered and attended his online course-the same course numerous Veles residents took offline. Our research confirms (1) the pivotal role Ceselkoski had in the creation of this industry; (2) the economic motivation driving the fake news disseminators; and (3) the manner in which the mostly young people in their early twenties with little English fluency were able to generate so much traffic and disseminate so much disinformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-23
Number of pages5
JournalPS - Political Science and Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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