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RECOMMENDED READING: How The Epoch Times Created A Giant Influence Machine

November 18th, 2020 14:41

The New York Times has pub­lished a com­pre­hen­sive report on the Epoch Times, the pro-Turmp media oper­a­tion asso­ci­at­ed with the Chine Falun Gong move­ment. The arti­cle, titled “How The Epoch Times Cre­at­ed a Giant Influ­ence Machine” begins:

Pub­lished Oct. 24, 2020 Updat­ed Nov. 12, 2020  For years, The Epoch Times was a small, low-bud­get news­pa­per with an anti-Chi­na slant that was hand­ed out free on New York street cor­ners. But in 2016 and 2017, the paper made two changes that trans­formed it into one of the country’s most pow­er­ful dig­i­tal pub­lish­ers. The changes also paved the way for the pub­li­ca­tion, which is affil­i­at­ed with the secre­tive and rel­a­tive­ly obscure Chi­nese spir­i­tu­al move­ment Falun Gong, to become a lead­ing pur­vey­or of right-wing mis­in­for­ma­tion. First, it embraced Pres­i­dent Trump, treat­ing him as an ally in Falun Gong’s scorched-earth fight against China’s rul­ing Com­mu­nist Par­ty, which banned the group two decades ago and has per­se­cut­ed its mem­bers ever since. Its rel­a­tive­ly staid cov­er­age of U. S. pol­i­tics became more par­ti­san, with more arti­cles explic­it­ly sup­port­ing Mr. Trump and crit­i­ciz­ing his oppo­nents. Around the same time, The Epoch Times bet big on anoth­er pow­er­ful Amer­i­can insti­tu­tion: Face­book. The pub­li­ca­tion and its affil­i­ates employed a nov­el strat­e­gy that involved cre­at­ing dozens of Face­book pages, fill­ing them with feel-good videos and viral click­bait, and using them to sell sub­scrip­tions and dri­ve traf­fic back to its par­ti­san news coverage.

Read the rest here.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed in Octo­ber that Face­book had removed a huge net­work of real and fake accounts asso­ci­at­ed with the Falun Gong move­ment over vio­la­tions of ts for­eign inter­fer­ence policy.

The Oxford Research Ency­clo­pe­dia explains the Falun Gong as fol­lows:  

Falun Gong (FLG) is a Qi Gong group that entered into  con­flict with the Chi­nese state around the turn of the 21st cen­tu­ry, and grad­u­al­ly trans­formed into a polit­i­cal move­ment. Qi Gong, in turn, is an ancient sys­tem of exer­cis­es that has been com­pared to yoga. Falun Gong was found­ed in the People’s Repub­lic of Chi­na (PRC) by Li Hongzhi (LHZ) in 1992, in the lat­ter part of what has been termed the Qi Gong “boom.” As the lead­er­ship of the PRC became increas­ing­ly crit­i­cal of the tra­di­tion­al folk reli­gion and super­sti­tion that was emerg­ing with­in some of the Qi Gong groups, Li Hongzhi and his fam­i­ly emi­grat­ed to the Unit­ed States. From the safe­ty of his new coun­try of res­i­dence, LHZ direct­ed his Chi­nese fol­low­ers to become increas­ing­ly con­fronta­tion­al, even­tu­al­ly stag­ing a mass demon­stra­tion in front of gov­ern­ment offices in Bei­jing on April 25, 1999. The move­ment was sub­se­quent­ly banned.

The New York Times ear­li­er described the Epoch Times as follows:

The Epoch Times is one of the most mys­te­ri­ous fix­tures of the pro-Trump media uni­verse. It was start­ed 20 years ago as a print news­pa­per by prac­ti­tion­ers of Falun Gong, the per­se­cut­ed Chi­nese spir­i­tu­al prac­tice. In recent years, the paper has made inroads into top Repub­li­can cir­cles. Mr. Trump and his advis­ers have shared Epoch Times arti­cles on their social media accounts, and last year, Lara Trump, the president’s daugh­ter-in-law, sat for an inter­view with an Epoch Times edi­tor. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Paul Gosar, a Repub­li­can from Ari­zona, called it “our favorite paper.”