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How The Epoch Times Created a Giant Influence Machine

In a press release, The Epoch Times mentioned it had “no business relationship” with America Daily.

Many of the Facebook pages operated by The Epoch Times and its associates adopted the same trajectory. They started by posting viral movies and uplifting information articles aggregated from different websites. They grew shortly, generally including tons of of hundreds of followers per week. Then, they had been used to steer folks to purchase Epoch Times subscriptions and promote extra partisan content material.

Several of the pages gained vital followings “seemingly overnight,” mentioned Renee DiResta, a disinformation researcher with the Stanford Internet Observatory. Many posts had been shared hundreds of occasions however acquired nearly no feedback — a ratio, Ms. DiResta mentioned, that’s typical of pages which were boosted by “click farms,” companies that generate pretend site visitors by paying folks to click on on sure hyperlinks time and again.

The Epoch Times denies utilizing click on farms or different illicit ways to develop its pages. “The Epoch Times’s social media strategies were different from DKN, and used Facebook’s own promotional tools to gain an increased organic following,” the outlet mentioned, including that The Epoch Times lower ties with Mr. Trung in 2018.

But final yr, The Epoch Times was barred from advertising on Facebook — the place it had spent greater than $1.5 million over seven months — after the social community introduced that the outlet’s pages had evaded its transparency necessities by disguising its advert purchases.

This yr, Facebook took down more than 500 pages and accounts linked to Truth Media, a community of anti-China pages that had been utilizing pretend accounts to amplify their messages. The Epoch Times denied any involvement, however Facebook’s investigators mentioned Truth Media “showed some links to on-platform activity by Epoch Media Group and NTD.”

“We’ve taken enforcement actions against Epoch Media and related groups several times,” mentioned a Facebook spokeswoman, who added that the social community would punish the outlet if it violated extra guidelines sooner or later.

Since being barred from promoting on Facebook, The Epoch Times has moved a lot of its operation to YouTube, the place it has spent greater than $1.eight million on advertisements since May 2018, based on Google’s public database of political promoting.

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