Facebook has banned conservative news outlet The Epoch Times from advertising on its platform.
The social network issued the ban following an investigation by NBC News that suggested The Epoch Times was trying to circumvent Facebook's rules on transparency around political advertisements.
The news site spent a reported $1.5m on pro-Donald Trump Facebook advertising in the last six months, making it the largest source of pro-Trump Facebook advertising outside the president's official campaign.
Until July, its advertising was clearly labelled as being affiliated with the organisation on Facebook. But NBC contends that when journalists started to question whether these ads violated Facebook's policies, the ad buying was funelled to several decoy accounts, with names such as 'Honest Paper' and 'Pure American Journalism'.
“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,” a Facebook spokesperson commented to NBC News. “We acted on additional accounts today and they are no longer able to advertise with us.”
The Epoch Times publisher, Stephen Gregory, told The New York Times that it moved its advertising to other pages after Facebook did not respond to requests for clarification about why its own ads were taken down. He said the new ads were "overtly Epoch Times advertisements for our subscription".