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.
Epoch Times said that Right on Times was one of its advertisers, and that Youmaker was an “independent business partner.” Sagebook, the company said, was being phased out. (The Sagebook site was no longer accessible as of last week.)
“The premise of your article is incorrect,” the company said in an email. “The Epoch Times does not deal in conspiracy theories. We pride ourselves on rigorous, fact-based reporting, which has attracted a large and rapidly growing audience.”
The largest media brand run by the Epoch Media Group remains The Epoch Times, which regularly publishes pro-Trump misinformation. In the past year, articles from The Epoch Times garnered 123.7 million likes and shares on social media, according to the social media analysis tool Buzzsumo. It has tens of millions of social media followers and has become a true rival of successful conservative outlets like The Daily Caller and Breitbart News. It now has dozens of international versions.
In 2019 and 2020, Facebook alleged links between The Epoch Times and brands including “The BL” and “Truth Media,” saying they were all part of the Falun Gong orbit. The brands operated hundreds of accounts that automatically published posts on Facebook at a rapid clip about conservative ideology and the 2020 election, as well as misinformation about the coronavirus. Eventually, Facebook ruled that many of those accounts violated its “coordinated inauthentic behavior” policies. The company removed them in two separate takedowns.
“We have clarified repeatedly that The Epoch Times has no relationship with The BL and Truth Media,” Epoch Media said.
Epoch began to make use of the alternative social media platforms, like Sagebook and Youmaker, in late 2020. Youmaker draws about 1.5 million unique visitors per month, according to data from the website analytics company SimilarWeb. Sagebook attracted 38,000 monthly visitors and Right on Times sees 15,000, according to SimilarWeb data.