[Photos: BrianAJackson/iStock; Flickr user Gage Skidmore]
If you’ve been seeing a lot of ads online from the Epoch Times, you’re not alone. The newspaper, founded in 2000 by adherents of the Falun Gong religious movement “as an antidote to communist propaganda,” has reportedly been spending millions of dollars to reach new readers with its pro-Donald Trump message.
In August, NBC News reported that the paper had spent more than $1.5 million on Facebook ads alone in a six-month period, before it was banned from advertising on the site after reportedly running adsthat didn’t make clear their ties to the organization. Its messages still frequently pop up on other advertising platforms, including YouTube and Google.
The paper, which strongly opposes the Chinese Communist Party, has taken a decidedly pro-Trump angle in recent years. Current headlines on the site refer to a “Democrat-led impeachment inquiry,” the high cost of “healthcare for illegal immigrants,” and CNN’s “nonstop Trump focus.”
An ad placed on Google’s ad network this summer offers a “Spygate Infographic poster detailing how the Obama administration conspired against Trump” with a subscription to the newspaper. In a YouTube posting on the Epoch Times channel, a reader commends the outlet for “bringing morality back to newspapers,” and a Google ad echoes Trump’s language in appealing to readers “tired of fake news.”
The Epoch Times didn’t respond to an inquiry from Fast Company.
On Friday, fact-checking website Snopes reported that an affiliated organization called “The BL,” for “The Beauty of Life,” has recentlybeen posting pro-Trump ads on Facebook. While the Epoch Timesdenies that it’s linked to The BL, Snopes reported that it’s largely run by former executives from the paper.
Facebook itself has come under fire recently after reports that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has held meetings with conservative figures, with #DeleteFacebook trending on Twitter this week. In a statement posted on Facebook, Zuckerberg said that he has “dinners with lots of people across the spectrum on lots of different issues all the time.”