Right on Times does not announce a partnership with Epoch, nor do the two websites share a unique digital identifier. When it launched in October, its articles were posted on social media by Epoch employees. Right on Times also had a prominent Epoch Properties advertising campaign and featured many Epoch Properties articles on its service. These actions led disinformation researchers, including those from the Global Disinformation Index, to conclude that coordination has taken place.
The Epoch Times said that Right on Times was one of its advertisers and that Youmaker was an “Independent Business Partner”. Sagebook said the company was phasing out. (The Sagebook site has been inaccessible since last week.)
“The premise of your article is wrong,” the company said in an email. “The Epoch Times doesn’t deal with conspiracy theories. We pride ourselves on rigorous, fact-based reporting that has attracted a large and rapidly growing audience. “
The Epoch Media Group’s largest media brand remains The Epoch Times, which regularly publishes pro-Trump misinformation. In the past year, articles from The Epoch Times generated 123.7 million likes and shares on social media, according to the social media analytics tool Buzzsumo. It has tens of millions of social media followers and has become a real rival to successful conservative outlets like The Daily Caller and Breitbart News. It now has dozens of international versions.
In 2019 and 2020, Facebook claimed to have connections between The Epoch Times and brands like “The BL” and “Truth Media”, saying they are all part of the Falun Gong orbit. The brands operated hundreds of accounts that automatically posted posts to Facebook in a short clip about conservative ideology and the 2020 elections, as well as misinformation about the coronavirus. Eventually, Facebook decided that many of these accounts were in violation of the “coordinated phony behavior” guidelines. The company removed them in two separate shutdowns.
“We have repeatedly made it clear that The Epoch Times has no relationship with The BL and Truth Media,” said Epoch Media.
Epoch started using alternative social media platforms like Sagebook and Youmaker in late 2020. Youmaker draws around 1.5 million unique visitors a month, according to website analytics firm SimilarWeb. Sagebook attracted 38,000 monthly visitors and Right on Times has 15,000 according to SimilarWeb data.