(Washington) The number of fake local news sites in the United States now exceeds that of authentic local media, research group NewsGuard said in a report Tuesday, warning of a potential explosion in disinformation five months from now. the American presidential election.  

Hundreds of sites posing as real local media, often using partisan articles generated by artificial intelligence, have emerged in recent months, according to the report, which identifies 1,265 in all.

For comparison, Northwestern University counted 1,213 local newspaper websites in the United States last year.

Nearly half of these partisan sites targeted key states that could swing the November presidential election in favor of Joe Biden or Donald Trump, according to online media outlet Axios.  

Among these fake news outlets, Newsguard identifies a network of 167 Russian disinformation sites the organization says are linked to John Mark Dougan, a former Florida police officer who fled the United States for Moscow.

Other sites are supported by conservative groups, but also by some with a more left-leaning orientation, according to the report.

In a study last year, Northwestern University found 204 of the 3,000 counties in the United States “without newspapers, local digital sites, public radio newsrooms, or ethnic publications.” Counties therefore qualified as “information deserts”.

Newspapers continue to disappear at a rate of more than two per week in the United States, according to the study, while the country has lost nearly two-thirds of its print journalists since 2005.

“With traditional newspapers disappearing, fake sites are rushing to fill the void,” Newsguard wrote in its report.

“As a result, millions of Americans are left without authentic local information,” the organization adds.

These fake partisan propaganda sites previously relied on a legion of authors, but the advent of generative artificial intelligence means that it is now much cheaper and much quicker to create fake content that is difficult to distinguish from real content. TRUE.