Beauty Within, a popular skin-care YouTube channel and online boutique, is inconspicuously linked to right-wing disinformation outlets The Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty (NTD). An investigation from The Atlantic brought the connection to light, but YouTube has taken no action to demonetize the channel.
The Epoch Times and NTD are pro-Trump media organizations affiliated with the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong. These outlets have a history of promoting the “Stop the Steal” events both before and after the January 6 Capitol insurrection, pushing content aligned with the QAnon conspiracy theory, and spreading COVID-19 misinformation, among other forms of right-wing propaganda.
With 2.4 million subscribers on YouTube and no mention of politics in its videos, Beauty Within leads viewers to purchase skin-care products from its online store, which lists The Epoch Times’ Manhattan office as its headquarters. The stars of the channel, Rowena Tsai and Felicia Lee, promote products through paid sponsorship videos, and their channel is monetized, despite claims from YouTube that The Epoch Times network was demonetized in late January. Viewers, skin-care companies, and Beauty Within customers may not be aware that their money could be funneled to support this insidious right-wing disinformation network.
On the surface, Beauty Within comes across as a bubbly vlog meant to introduce viewers to new products and skin-care techniques, with no mention of politics.
The hosts often speak with skin-care professionals, discuss beauty tips, and introduce their audience to products they are being paid to promote, including via sponsorship deals with large retailers like Walmart.
The deceptiveness of Beauty Within’s connections to right-wing disinformation outlets is typical among operations from The Epoch Times and NTD.
Shortly after the 2020 election, a network of seemingly independent YouTube channels were created by The Epoch Times to cast doubt on the election results and spread conspiracy theories and misinformation. In August 2019, The Epoch Times was barred from buying advertising space on Facebook after attempting to “hide its multimillion-dollar spending on dark-money ads” by creating “sock-puppet” political news pages that seemingly had no connection to the outlet. In October 2019, Snopes reported on The Epoch Times’ connection to the pro-Trump Facebook network The BL -- although both right-wing outlets denied being linked, Snopes described these denials as “not reflective of reality.”
Now, with YouTube hosting monetized content for Beauty Within, The Epoch Times and NTD continue to exploit social media platforms, seemingly to fund their operations spreading right-wing propaganda and misinformation.