Facebook last Friday issued a ban on Falun Gong-related publications and the conservative news media "The Epoch Times" to advertise on the platform. Earlier, a report by NBC News said that the Epoch Times was related to the recent advertisement on Facebook to promote President Trump and conspiracy, and the newspaper intentionally concealed the connection.
The Epoch Times was founded in 2000 and was initiated by a group of Chinese Americans who believe in religious group Falun Gong. In recent years, the newspaper has attracted a large number of fans on social media with the popularity of conservatives and pro-Trump waves. On the official website, the newspaper also promotes conspiracy theories such as anti-vaccine theory, and its YouTube channel promotes topics such as Trump's edge campaign “Anonymous Q” (QAnon).
The official Facebook account of the Epoch Times has been blocked in July. But according to NBC News, the company subsequently launched a number of ads on Facebook that did not reveal itself. The sponsors of these advertisements appear in the name of "Honest Paper" and "Pure American Journalism", which are purchased by MarketFuel Subscription Services and Perpetual Market. According to NBC News, both companies are pseudonyms of the Epoch Times. .
《大纪元时报》的官方Facebook账号在7月已经被封。但据NBC新闻报道，该公司随后在Facebook投放了一批没有揭示与自己有关的广告。这些广告的赞助商以“Honest Paper”和 “Pure American Journalism”等名义出现，由MarketFuel订阅服务公司和Perpetual Market公司进行购买，而据NBC新闻，这两家公司均是《大纪元时报》的假名。
“Over the past year, due to violations of advertising policies, we have deleted the accounts associated with the Epoch Times,” Facebook said in a statement. “We have taken action on some other accounts today, they will It’s also not possible to advertise on our platform."
Stephen Gregory, publisher of the Epoch Times, also issued a statement saying that Facebook had not explained the reasons for the removal of its ads, so the newspaper began to "with some other, newly established Advertising in the name of a Facebook page." Gregory also said, "These ads are obviously intended to increase the subscription of the Epoch Times."
Facebook’s move shows that even for groups that have already made restrictions, it’s still difficult for the company to capture the political ads they’ve placed. The social networking company has been criticized for spreading false information and being used by Russia to manipulate public opinion. To combat such activities, Facebook introduced a political advertising transparency rule in 2018 that requires political advertisers to disclose the names of organizations responsible for these ads.
But before that, the Epoch Times clearly managed to avoid these rules.
Joan Donovan, director of the Technology and Social Change Research Program at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, points out that the newspaper's strategy is similar to that of the Russian Internet Research Agency. The latter washes false information in social movements by creating imposter pages. “Weaponizing advertising is critical to an audience that increases this false information,” she said.
哈佛大学(Harvard University)肖伦斯坦中心(Shorenstein Center)技术与社会变迁研究项目主任琼·多诺万(Joan Donovan)指出，该报的策略与俄罗斯互联网研究机构(Internet Research Agency)的做法类似，后者通过创建冒名者页面，在社会运动中洗白虚假信息。“将广告武器化对于增加这种虚假信息的受众来说至关重要，”她说。
According to NBC News, The Epoch Times posted about $2 million in advertising on Facebook, most of which supported Trump. Facebook declined to comment on the size of the newspaper’s spending on its platform.