Facebook has banned The Epoch Times, a pro-Trump outlet, from advertising on the social media platform.
This came after a week of several different mainstream media outlets targeting the conservative site. NBC News took the lead, writing a “report” attacking the site which apparently caught the attention of the Facebook big wigs.
Facebook has banned The Epoch Times, a conservative news outlet that spent more money on pro-Trump Facebook advertisements than any group other than the Trump campaign, from any future advertising on the platform.
The decision follows an NBC News report that The Epoch Times had shifted its spending on Facebook in the last month, seemingly in an effort to obfuscate its connection to some $2 million worth of ads that promoted the president and conspiracy theories about his political enemies.
“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.”
Reading the article, it’s not at all clear exactly what specific ad policies were violated. NBC News claims they were pushing “conspiracy theories,” which is just left-wing speak for “things I don’t like.” You see, railing about Trump-Russia collusion for years on end isn’t a “conspiracy theory,” but buy some ads pushing that idea that corruption happened during the investigation and Facebook is on it. The lack of self-awareness by the mainstream media is breathtaking in its scope.
Of course, this is just as much about money as it is politics. The Epoch Times, love them or not, had seen exponential growth in the past year and they were overshadowing other liberal outlets (including NBC News) in promotion and total views on the different social media platforms. That means they have to be destroyed and the moment the liberal press said jump, Facebook asked how high, coming up with a rationale to stop all advertising from The Epoch Times going forward.
Facebook’s decision came as a result of a review prompted by questions from NBC News. The spokesperson explained that ads must include disclaimers that accurately represent the name of the ad’s sponsors.
The Epoch Times’ new method of pushing the pro-Trump conspiracy ads on Facebook, which appeared under page names such as “Honest Paper” and “Pure American Journalism,” allowed the organization to hide its multimillion-dollar spending on dark-money ads, in effect bypassing Facebook’s political advertising transparency rules. Facebook’s ban will affect only The Epoch Times’ ability to buy ads; the sock-puppet pages created to host the new policy-violating ads were still live at the time of publication.
I like the continual ranting about “dark money.” It’s all very scary sounding, as if only the right spreads money around different organizations to do advertising. Of course, if The Epoch Times really had run against some of Facebook’s obscure rules, the typical thing to do would be to warn them. That didn’t happen here. Instead, Facebook just dropped the hammer and banned them from advertising altogether. That seems like a rather rash, if not political decision.
The biggest thing to note here isn’t what Facebook did, but rather how Facebook was prompted to do what they did. If the social media giant had simply come across violations through their normal process and responded with levity, that’d be one thing. What makes this dangerous is how the left-wing media start a narrative, push that narrative, and then try to force (often successfully) these social media companies to act on their political whims. We saw this with NBC owned Vox and their war against Steven Crowder’s YouTube channel.
Another issue here is that what The Epoch Times was doing is apparently very common. Yet, no one on the left has been targeted.
Although he doesn’t manage their social media strategy — Steinhauser said The Epoch Times handles that internally — he said creating multiple pages and accounts without clearly labeling their connection to the wider organization was a common practice used by public relations or political campaigns to bring in subscribers and donors.
This isn’t going to stop. While The Epoch Times isn’t quite a mainstream conservative site, they certainly aren’t anything comparable to Alex Jones though. The mainstream press and their social media allies are broadening their range of fire. More and more you are going to see less and less controversial outlets taken down.
While some on the right continue to drink their coffee amid the flames and proclaim all is fine because Facebook is a private company, the alligator is coming for them. By the time it arrives, they’ll be no one left to defend their outlets.
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