Right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro’s aggregation-based website The Daily Wire has enjoyed unparalleled success on Facebook, ranking as the social-media platform’s seventh-ranked publisher last month and matching The New York Times despite publishing a tenth of the Grey Lady’s output. According to Popular Information, that success is largely due to a coordinated network of right-wing Facebook pages, all run by the same owner, that share Daily Wire posts ten or more times a day.
The pages, some of which have millions of followers and have built their audiences by framing stories to exploit racial and religious bigotry, do not disclose a business relationship with The Daily Wire. The behavior exhibited by the pages, however, strongly suggests owner Mad World News, LLC is being paid by Shapiro’s outlet to boost the stories.
A Facebook spokesperson told Popular Information that they found no violation of the platform’s rules on coordinated inauthentic behavior, saying they were unable to determine a financial relationship. Late last year, The Daily Wire was caught running a clandestine network of 14 Facebook pages to exclusively promote its content, eventually acknowledging it owned the pages after Facebook implemented a new policy on page ownership.