A network of Facebook pages managed from Bulgaria, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, is pushing hundreds of videos of primetime opinion shows from Fox News, One America News Network (OAN), and Newsmax. The majority of the videos have been posted with altered thumbnails and lower-third headlines, presenting the misleading idea that the conservative personalities on the shows reported that U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were going to jail. Both are Democrats.
Some of the thumbnails featured U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican, perhaps because, as USA Today reported, he "rebuked" the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In the months before and after Election Day, a number of his Republican colleagues latched onto baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud, an apparent attempt to please constituents who had been influenced by lies on talk radio, cable news, and social media.
We uncovered pages named TopCulinaria aka @top1newsusa, Receitas Top 10, Receitinhas da Vovó aka @Newstodaytrump, Red Bird Farm, Paige 10, darwin05cantillo24 aka @TrumpDaily2024, DannLu, RT HyLele, Em 16+, Thalia Fans Bulgaria, and three groups named We Love Breaking News America, Trump Daily Report, and US News Daily. According to Google Translate, one of the pages had a Russian-language name: Гибелна красота / Bella Calamidades.
Facebook's "Page Transparency" tool showed a mix of countries where the pages are purportedly managed, including Bulgaria, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. While there may be other countries involved in the network, we were unable to find sufficient evidence of more than the five mentioned.
In addition to altering the thumbnails and lower-third headlines to make it appear as if Biden and Pelosi were going to jail, many of the thumbnails have falsely claimed that former President Donald Trump was coming back to be president in 2021. However, that is not possible. The next U.S. presidential election is not until 2024.
The clips posted to the pages feature full-length shows from the networks and received at least tens of millions of views over the course of nearly a year, beginning in late 2020. The total follower count for the pages numbered well over 260,000 Facebook users.
The pages posted full-length episodes of "The Ingraham Angle," "Tucker Carlson Tonight," "Hannity," "Justice with Judge Jeanine," "The Five," "Greg Kelly Reports," "OAN Morning News," "Watters' World," "Stinchfield," and "Life, Liberty and Levin."
The website associated with the pages and groups was trumpdailyreport.com. According to the website's registration information, the domain was first created on May 26, 2021, purportedly from Da Nang, Vietnam. According to Da Nang Today, the city has recently been dealing with troubles involving COVID-19 misinformation on social media, even going as far as to fine citizens found to be pushing such misleading content. In 2019, we reported about an enormous pro-Trump network known as "The BL," which had 55 million followers, spent $9.5 million in Facebook ads, and was largely managed from Vietnam. Our reporting, along with an investigation by Lead Stories reporter Sarah Thompson, led to perhaps one of the largest network removals in Facebook history. "The BL" is closely linked to The Epoch Times.
We also noticed that one of the pages listed a phone number with a country code for Colombia: +57.
Several of the pages that have pushed the altered pro-Trump videos appeared to have been created years earlier, back when they promoted the Spanish-language telenovela "Bella Calamidades," which translates to "Beautiful But Unlucky." Screenshots from the television show were uploaded to the pages in 2013. We also found evidence that TopCulinaria aka @top1newsusa used to be a page about food.
In addition to the new videos, some of the pages also posted memes about Trump.
It's unclear if there were more pages and groups in the same network, or if their reach extended to other social media platforms. Administrators in the groups included the names Rex Avelliano, Hafiz Melana, and Marleny Ordóñez Martinez. The groups were created by an account named Rb Parroco Obejas.
On Aug. 26, within mere minutes of our team finding the We Love Breaking News America Facebook group and beginning our investigation, it disappeared, despite the fact that it had been around for some time. Some of the pages also soon disappeared from Facebook, or so we thought. In reality, the web addresses had simply changed by the page managers, but the pages were still available. All of the pages and the two other groups were still active days after we published this story.
In the days and weeks before this story was published, we reported about how Tina Forte, a Republican running against U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2022, was at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and also heavily promoted the date beforehand on Facebook and Twitter. She even livestreamed on Facebook Live that day.
We also detailed in two other recent stories about how QAnon content and COVID denialism are thriving on Facebook. In our report about COVID denialism, we detailed how an anti-mask and anti-vaccine Facebook group was pushing sales of fake masks for use in schools. More than two weeks later, as the United States is once again seeing thousands of COVID deaths per day, as children are returning to school in states across the country, and amid skyrocketing case numbers in kids, the fake masks posts are still visible and the Facebook group is still active and thriving on the social media platform.
This story will be updated should any new information come to light.