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Epoch Times Tied To New Social Media Websites Promoting Disinformation

March 22nd, 2021 13:42

US media is report­ing that The Epoch Times, a media oper­a­tion asso­ci­at­ed with the Chi­nese Falun Gong move­ment, appears to be con­nect­ed to sev­er­al new social media web­sites spread­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion aimed at sup­port­ing the US rightwing. Accord­ing to the New York Times report:

March 9, 2021 Youmak­er, a lit­tle-known video site, promi­nent­ly fea­tured a video alleg­ing that a far-left extrem­ist move­ment was plot­ting to destroy Amer­i­ca. On Sage­book, a Twit­ter-like social net­work filled with posts from right-lean­ing users, a side­bar of trend­ing top­ics con­tained the hash­tags for “Stop the Steal,” “Cen­sor­ship” and “Face­book.” And Right on Times, an obscure right-wing news aggre­ga­tor, recent­ly pro­mot­ed favor­able arti­cles about Repub­li­can offi­cials who refused to rec­og­nize Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s vic­to­ry in the 2020 elec­tion. All three are among about a dozen web­sites spread­ing mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion with ties to the Epoch Media Group, a news orga­ni­za­tion that has become a top pur­vey­or of con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and polit­i­cal mis­in­for­ma­tion, accord­ing to data pro­vid­ed by the research group Advance Democ­ra­cy and ana­lyzed by Glob­al Dis­in­for­ma­tion Index, a non­prof­it that stud­ies dis­in­for­ma­tion. Youmak­er hosts the videos on The Epoch Times web­site. Sage­book was recent­ly used to run The Epoch Times’s com­ments sys­tem. When Right on Times launched a few months ago, numer­ous Epoch employ­ees pro­mot­ed the site on their social media feeds, and Right on Times ran many arti­cles from Epoch prop­er­ties. Researchers found that the oth­er sites have dig­i­tal fin­ger­prints, like adver­tis­ing iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tags, that match those used by Epoch Media properties.

Read the rest here.

The arti­cle notes that while Youmak­er dis­clos­es its part­ner­ship with the Epoch Media Group,  The Epoch Times’ par­ent com­pa­ny, the oth­ers do not:

The Glob­al Dis­in­for­ma­tion Index, a non­prof­it research group, found the ties among the sites by ana­lyz­ing their host­ing records, web­site ana­lyt­ics and adver­tis­er iden­ti­fiers. Right on Times does not dis­close any part­ner­ship with Epoch, nor do the two web­sites share a unique dig­i­tal iden­ti­fi­er. But when it launched in Octo­ber, its arti­cles were post­ed on social media by Epoch employ­ees. Right on Times also had a promi­nent ad cam­paign on Epoch prop­er­ties, and it includ­ed many arti­cles from Epoch prop­er­ties on its ser­vice. Those actions led dis­in­for­ma­tion researchers, includ­ing those at the Glob­al Dis­in­for­ma­tion Index, to con­clude there was coordination.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed in Octo­ber 2020 that The Epoch Times had spread a num­ber of pro-Trump con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries as a part of its stat­ed goal to take down the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment. Oth­er GIOR report­ing on the Epoch Times has included:

  • In Novem­ber 2020, we rec­om­mend­ed anoth­er New York Times arti­cle detail­ing how the Epoch Times has devel­oped its influ­ence operations.
  • In Octo­ber 2020, we report­ed that Face­book had removed many Falun Gong move­ment accounts from a dig­i­tal media out­let linked to The Epoch Times.