The founders of The Epoch Times, who originally set up the outlet as a means of circumventing the censorship of Communist China, probably never guessed in 2000 that they would face challenges to their freedom of speech on American soil.
But times have changed, with even basic facts being subject to attacks and criticism in today’s highly polarized political environment.
Starting in the evening of Thursday, July 28, social media platform Twitter imposed a blanket warning on all links from The Epoch Times, an outlet that was founded in 2000 by Chinese immigrants fleeing persecution in their own country.
Update: As of the morning of July 30, the warnings appear to have been removed.
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While links and previews from the media organization still appeared in Twitter posts, every click, when clicked, directs users to an exit page telling them “Warning: this link may be unsafe.”
The warning, which Vision Times verified was still in effect as of Friday afternoon, further claims that content on The Epoch Times’ website “has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially spammy or unsafe.”
The text did not specify which of Twitter’s guidelines the outlet is supposed to have violated, but lists as possibilities “malicious links that could steal personal information,” “spammy links,” “violent or misleading content,” and notably, “certain categories of content that, if posted directly on Twitter, are a violation of the Twitter Rules.”
The warning then suggested the user return to Twitter, while providing a less prominent option to continue to the Epoch Times link.
The Epoch Times English edition saw a significant jump in popularity following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, being known for its reporting on the Spygate scandal surrounding the Republican president.
Dajiyuan (大紀元), as the Chinese-language edition is called, is one of the largest overseas Chinese media. It is known for its critical coverage of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — and publication of the Nine Commentaries editorial series, which has inspired mass renunciations of the Communist Party among mainland and overseas Chinese.
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Joshua Philipp, a long-time Epoch Times reporter and the host of its Crossroads show, speculated that the social media platform’s move may have been triggered by his recent documentary titled The Real Story of Jan. 6.