Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Facebook has banned conservative news site The Epoch Times from buying ads after it was discovered that the site was trying to avoid the company’s rules for transparency around political advertisements, according to a report from NBC News.
The Epoch Times previously spent $2 million on Facebook ads supporting President Trump and amplifying conspiracy theories, which is more than any other organization, save for the Trump campaign itself. After journalist Judd Legum noted back in July that many of The Epoch Times’ ads were in violation of Facebook’s policies, the outlet’s accounts were banned.
Epoch Times previously spent $2 million on Facebook ads supporting Trump
But it simply shifted strategies, creating sock puppet pages to run the ads instead. By not disclosing that The Epoch Times was behind the new ads, the company was again in violation of Facebook’s rules, resulting in the latest ban.
“Over the past year we removed accounts associated with the Epoch Times for violating our ad policies, including trying to get around our review systems,” a Facebook spokesperson commented to NBC News. “We acted on additional accounts today and they are no longer able to advertise with us.”
As an earlier NBC News report found, The Epoch Times is actually associated with Falun Gong, a Chinese religious group that seeks to tear down the Chinese government (the same group that runs the unavoidable Shen Yun dance troupe). The group apparently believes that Trump’s policies are key to that goal. In addition to supporting Trump through millions of dollars of problematic Facebook ads, the outlet also promotes QAnon-related conspiracy theories, anti-vaccination propaganda, and other extreme content.