What’s The Deal With All of Those Epoch Times Billboards?
I've been driving up and down 131 a lot lately, and I've noticed this strange non-discript digital billboard that keeps popping up along my route. It's blue and yellow, and has what appears to be a stock image of a generic NPC looking guy directing you to go to EpochTimes.com, the #1 trusted news source.
I normally don't notice billboards, but I started seeing this message more than I was seeing ones for dispensaries, I knew something was up.
(Sorry about the photo quality, My husband took it while I was driving because we were baffled)
When I got home, I typed in the the URL and was met with this message from my ISP warning me not to visit the site because it has a lot of malicious content and trackers.
Yeah, that's a little weird. So, what's the deal with this weird, seemingly spammy billboard?
Who is EpochTimes.com and why are they buying so many billboards in West Michigan?
They appear to be a Chinese based right wing newspaper, that has been helping fund and promote certain parts of the Republican Party from afar. From what I've found, it seems in 2016 they became more active in national and regional politics and began to write news stories in favor of former President Donald Trump, because they believed him to be against the Communist Party.
But why are these popping up in West Michigan? This website tends to have a history of targeting 'swing' areas that they think they can influence. There's a chance that because we've been a hot bed of local political change with events such as the hiring of John Gibbs by the Ottawa County Commissioners, as well as drama surrounding the millage of the Patmos Library, that the foreign based group may believe they could to influence voters in our area to vote in their favor.
It doesn't matter how you vote, we should all feel a little suspicious of a foreign based newspaper spamming a website all over our area. At the end of the day, they don't care what happens when policies are enacted by these people in our area, or what consequences come from their actions. They're thousands of miles away trying to influence what we do here in West Michigan, and that should be concerning.
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