Facebook published a blog post today explaining their decision to remove 610 accounts, 89 Facebook Pages, 156 Groups and 72 Instagram accounts that were linked to BL, a US-based media company that Facebook claims were “engaging in foreign and government interference.”
Shortly after, Epoch Times published a statement claiming that Facebook has made a mistake assuming that Epoch Media Group is connected to BL. Epoch is specifically mentioned in Facebook's blog post: “Although the people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation linked this activity to Epoch Media Group, a US-based media organization, and individuals in Vietnam working on its behalf.”
Epoch states that they have no connection to BL.
Epoch explained in their post that BL is a publication of Epoch Times Vietnam, and that they haven't been listed as part of Epoch Media Group since October of 2018.
Back in July, Facebook banned Epoch Media Group from advertising on Facebook. In November, Congressman Jim Banks wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerburg in response, explaining that punishing the Epoch Media Group would not be in the best interests of the United States.
The letter reads: “The Epoch Times has an incredibly wide reach. With over 1.6 million weekly readers, it is the largest uncensored Chinese language newspaper in the world. Additionally, it's distributed in 35 different countries and in 17 different languages. Because its founder is an ex-Chinese citizen and almost all its staff are Chinese-speaking, the Epoch Times has been able to retain an incredibly large network of Chinese sources in mainland China.” Adding that “The rest of the world needs a Chinese dissident paper now more than ever. And that's the exact sort of newspaper you've chosen to censor.”
Earlier this month, Mark Zuckerburg defended their policy to allow false ads, and claimed that the alternative would be censorship. Saying that “People should be able to judge for themselves the character of politicians.” His statement came after 250 Facebook employees wrote an open letter to Zuckerburg asking him to consider the difference between free speech and paid speech, arguing that the policy is “a threat to what Facebook stands for.”