Facebook has banned new ad buys from the pro-Trump conservative outlet the Epoch Times, citing violations of ad policies.
Earlier this week, an NBC News report found the Epoch Times, an outlet affiliated with the Chinese spiritual community Falun Gong, “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.” After NBC News contacted Facebook, the social media site acted.
Facebook reps did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the company said in a statement to NBC News: “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. We acted on additional accounts today and they are no longer able to advertise with us.”
Only the Epoch Times itself is banned from placing ads. The associated sock-puppet accounts identified by NBC News are still active.
When reached for comment, Epoch Times publisher Stephen Gregory directed TheWrap to a Friday statement that says the publication was “surprised” to learn from news reports that Facebook had banned its ad purchases going forward.
“NBC’s representation of our print-subscription advertisements is blatantly incorrect. None of our advertising was done to ‘obfuscate’ the connection to The Epoch Times; all the advertising was clearly for Epoch Times print subscriptions,” the statement says.
Facebook ads are tricky, politically. Just last month, the president’s own reelection campaign was busted for seemingly using free stock video footage to portray his real-life supporters. The MAGA “fans” in the stock footage aren’t even allowed to vote for President Trump if they wanted to, with the models coming from not only Turkey but Brazil and France as well.