A Global Witness investigation has found that The Epoch Times is targeting people in the UK with adverts on Facebook and Instagram that deny the existence of climate change and question its severity.

The Epoch Times is a conservative media outlet with a history of promoting conspiracy theories. The adverts include false claims that ‘Arctic ice is not melting’ and that ‘higher CO2 levels are not a problem’ and have been shown to users of Meta platforms more than a million times, our investigation found.

Global Witness believes these ads breach the Advertising Standards Authority’s rules. We have submitted complaints to the ASA, asking them to open an investigation with a view to banning the ads. As a result of our investigation, Meta has blocked Epoch Times London’s ability to post adverts for repeatedly violating their ads policies. 

Referring The Epoch Times to the ASA

In recent years, The Epoch Times has built up a large social media following and made a lot of money by pushing conspiracy content online. In a crucial election year in the UK, tech platforms and regulators must act to prevent, detect and limit the spread of disinformation, especially on the urgent issue of climate change.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the independent body that administers the Committee of Advertising Practice Code, a rule book for non-broadcast advertisements in the United Kingdom. In particular, the rules state that “Marketing communications must not materially misleads”. Adverts that make demonstrably false claims about climate science arguably breach this rule.   

We have submitted complaints to the ASA about four adverts by The Epoch Times that have recently appeared on Meta platforms and have been available to readers in the UK. The adverts include the following false statements:

  • “UN says melting arctic ice is a key indicator of climate change—but it’s not melting”
  • “Climate experts: ‘Higher CO2 levels are not a problem’”
  • “Climate scientists say we should embrace higher CO2 levels”
  • “Trillions spent on ‘climate change’ based on faulty temperature data: climate experts say”

Climate denial adverts by The Epoch Times
Climate denial ads by The Epoch Times

Screenshots of the adverts taken from the Meta Ad Library. For some of these ads different versions were published with the same text but a different image

These statements contradict well-established climate science and are highly misleading. Evidence gathered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes clear that Arctic ice is melting and one of Meta’s own fact checking organisations has debunked the Epoch Times article, to which the advert links, that makes this claim. Higher atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are a huge problem - the IPCC has said that “carbon dioxide is responsible for most of global warming.”  Scientific evidence presented by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project among other sources has thoroughly debunked the idea that the temperature readings that underlie climate models are wrong. [1]

The adverts identified in this investigation were published using new Facebook and Instagram accounts called ‘Epoch Times London’ that were set up in October 2023 and were targeted to UK users. Neither account had published any posts on their feed at the time of submission of our complaints. The adverts were funded by a UK-registered company called Epoch Times London.

Recently, The Epoch Times has become a big spender on Meta ads in the UK. They have spent more than £30,000 on Meta ads over the last three months and £11,300 on the four ads for which we have submitted complaints to the ASA. [2]

In a 2021 statement on the regulation of environmental claims and issues in advertising, the ASA stated that they ‘will be shining a brighter regulatory spotlight on environmental matters in the years to come and tightening up our positions on problematic ad claims where there is an evidence base to do so.’ The ASA subsequently announced it would be getting stricter on how it interpreted its guidance and clamped down on misleading environmental claims with recent rulings calling for the removal of adverts by banks, airlines and others because of misleading climate claims. We are calling for them to do the same in the case of Epoch Times London’s climate denial adverts.

What is The Epoch Times?

The Epoch Times is a far-right newspaper that was founded in 2000 and is part of the Epoch Media Group. It has websites in 36 countries and is blocked in mainland China. The media outlet’s founders are practitioners of Falun Gong, a religious movement that emerged in China in the mid-1990s. In 1999, the Chinese government banned Falun Gong;the group has since been vocally critical of the Chinese Communist Party, holding international demonstrations to “clarify the truth” about the organisation.

The publication is wealthy: Epoch Times Association Inc is registered as a tax-exempt non-profit in the US and had a revenue of $128 million in 2022. The paper claims that it is the fourth most read in the US, although this cannot verified as the publication is not audited externally, unlike other major American newspapers.

The Epoch Times’ repeated breaches of Meta’s rules

The Epoch Times has built a “global-scale misinformation machine that has repeatedly pushed fringe narratives into the mainstream”, according to the New York Times. Among the disinformation it has promoted are false messages around voter fraud and the US elections, the ‘Spygate’ and QAnon conspiracy theories, and anti-vaccine narratives in relation to coronavirus.

Tech platforms have placed restrictions and bans on The Epoch Times in recent years. In 2019, the Epoch Times spent more than $1.5 million dollars over a six month period on Facebook ads. These ads praised Trump, peddled conspiracy theories about the ‘Deep State’, and criticized ‘fake news’ media. Later that year, The Epoch Times was banned from advertising on Facebook in the US, after it was revealed that the publication had bypassed Facebook's political advertising transparency rules by publishing ads via newly-created, opaquely-named pages such as ‘Honest Paper’ and ‘Pure American Journalism’.

In December 2019, Facebook took down more than 600 accounts it said were tied to The Epoch Times for using identities created by artificial intelligence to promote political content. The accounts were run by Vietnamese users posing as Americans and pushed anti-impeachment and pro-Trump messages. After this action from Facebook, Epoch Media Group appears to have branched out to other methods of spreading its message. Data provided by the research group Advance Democracy and analyzed by Global Disinformation Index in 2021 connected Epoch Media Group with about a dozen websites which it was alleged were spreading misleading information and conspiracy theories.


Advertisers should not be able to spread climate lies to millions of users on social media. In an election ‘megacycle’ year, when more than half the world’s population is going to the polls – including in the UK - this type of disinformation is even more concerning. Rising to the urgent challenge of climate change will require collective action and healthy debate. These efforts are undermined when advertisers pay for blatant climate lies to proliferate online.

Ahead of the UK election, the ASA has an opportunity to investigate The Epoch Times and ensure adverts on social media do not mislead when it comes to climate science. Similarly, social media companies such as Meta – which claims to take climate misinformation seriously on its platforms – must review and take appropriate action against The Epoch Times for any breaches of their rules.

Global Witness is calling on:

  • The ASA to open an investigation into whether The Epoch Times breaches the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code and, if so, to ban these adverts
  • Social media platforms to investigate whether any advertising or monetised content that The Epoch Times or related entities may have run on their platforms breaches their policies.

A spokesperson for The Epoch Times said that scientists have always differed in their opinion on climate change and that “To ban different opinions does not help a civilized open society and erodes freedom of speech.” However, climate change is a fact, not an opinion, and advertising rules in the UK and elsewhere require ads to be truthful. They also provided links to their rebuttals of other media coverage about them – see here, here, here and here.

 A spokesperson for Meta said “Following an investigation, we have blocked Epoch Times London’s ability to post adverts for repeatedly violating our ads policies. We take climate change seriously, which is why we are taking steps to make sure people have access to reliable information while reducing climate misinformation.” They said that they have a large network of fact checkers and that they reject ads that contain content debunked by third-party fact checkers. 

[1] Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project, Real Climate, DeSmog and Skeptical Science

[2] The Meta Ads Library does not provide precise information on the amount of money spent on and number of impressions of an advert; instead, they give a range.  Our estimates are based on the midpoint of the ranges.