Facebook has banned The Epoch Times after a report found that the conservative news outlet was flooding the social media site with thousands of pro-Trump advertisements — outspending every political group outside of Donald Trump’s own re-election campaign.
As NBC News reported, the social media site pulled the plug on The Epoch Times and the reported $2 million it had spent in ads to promote the president and spread conspiracy theories about his perceived political enemies. The move comes just days after NBC News had published a report connecting the New York-based newspaper to more than 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements that echoed the president’s conspiracy theories about the “Deep State” and criticizing “fake news.”
The ads were purchased under a number of pages, including “Honest Paper” and “Pure American Journalism,” the report noted. The Epoch Times was founded as a non-profit newspaper to push anti-Communist messages from the Chinese-American religious movement, Fulan Gong, but in recent years, it has evolved into a conservative outlet that strongly backs Donald Trump and echoes conspiracy theories in his favor and against his enemies, the report noted.
“The religious group that quietly operates the paper believes in an upcoming judgment day that will send communists to hell, and says that Trump is helping accelerate that timeline,” the NBC News report noted.
Facebook announced on Thursday that The Epoch Times has been singled out for violations of ad policies before, and now would be removed from the site entirely.
“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 said. “We acted on additional accounts today and they are no longer able to advertise with us.”
The shift to a pro-Trump focus has paid incredible dividends for the The Epoch Times, the report from NBC News found. The news outlet’s revenue has more than doubled since 2016, and its online content attracted billions of views through social media and other platforms. The newspaper also began to carry significant sway among conservative media outlets, getting exclusive interviews with members of Donald Trump’s cabinet and other key figures in the Republican Party.
Haven't heard of the Epoch Times? It might be because of their ad targeting, which focuses on older Americans, and warns them of Communism, immigrants and the Deep State.— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 20, 2019
They spend more on pro-Trump ads than anybody but the actual campaign.https://t.co/nWKClaa59M pic.twitter.com/TvFrn3xgLw
The move to ban The Epoch Times from advertising on Facebook comes after Donald Trump and other Republicans have complained that social media sites are biased against conservatives, pointing to a number of fringe figures who have been removed from platforms for violations of service agreements.