London – Several UK publishers, including The Guardian, Daily Mirror, Manchester Evening News, Chronicle Life and Press Gazette, have announced cloning of their websites and news articles.
The Content Licensing Commission announced that it removed 50,000 articles from 1,000 fake and illegal news websites last year. In 2020 the Commission removed around 20,000 articles from more than 700 sources.
The battle against clone news articles has intensified after the number of “highly sophisticated fake websites” shut down by British publishers doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year.
“The problem is widespread,” said Matt Aspinall, head of publisher services at the content licensing body. The motive behind this move is unclear.
The Content Licensing Authority said, “Publishers rely heavily on advertising for their revenue, and cloned sites do not display their own ads or ask viewers to subscribe to something. And only in a few cases, when users clicked to access the story, were they redirected to encrypted websites, an activity known as clickbait.”
However, the consequences for UK publishers could be severe, damaging their reputation. And the potential damage is enormous.
Speaking to Press Gazette last year, Richard Reeves, executive director of the Online Publishers Association, warned that the financial impact on publishers would be significant.
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