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- AJ+, an arm of Al Jazeera, is a major video creator on Facebook, making viral videos emphasizing purported racism, sexism, labor exploitation and homophobia in America.
- AJ+ is owned by Qatar, a nation with notable human rights issues.
- Critics say Qatar is engaging in foreign meddling in U.S. politics similar to Russia and that it is using identity politics to trick young millennials into advancing its anti-American agenda.
- YouTube puts a disclaimer on AJ+ videos, but Facebook refused to discuss why its anti-meddling efforts haven’t included the Qatar-owned outlet.
AJ+ has become a major video creator on Facebook, with its viral videos in the style of Buzzfeed or NowThis targeting liberal millennials. But unknown to some, it’s actually a branch of Al Jazeera and is owned by the government of Qatar, a Middle Eastern nation long accused of meddling in the affairs of other countries.
The AJ+ videos often focus on progressive ideals and are framed in a way that emphasizes the divisions in U.S. policy and politics. And Facebook doesn’t disclose the Qatar connection on videos AJ+ posts and apparently hasn’t blocked its content, even as the social media platform cracks down on fake news and hidden foreign influence.
“If AJ+ reaches a larger audience with its façade of progressivism, it doesn’t mean Qatar is more progressive. It just means its influence campaign is more effective,” a researcher with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Gilead Ini, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
YouTube labels AJ+ videos with a disclaimer that says “Al Jazeera is funded in whole or in part by the Qatari government” and includes a link to Wikipedia. It is the same label that appears on material from RT, previously known as Russia Today.
One video, for example, highlights how Democrats in the U.S. are increasingly opposing Israel, one of Qatar’s top priorities.
On Facebook, there is no such warning. Even as the social network has devoted massive efforts to stopping “fake news” and foreign meddling, the foreign government-funded news outlet that this month published a video denying the Holocaust has gone unchecked. AJ+ exists almost entirely through social media, primarily Twitter and Facebook.
Being aware of the outlet’s connection to Qatar is crucial. At first, its videos seem progressive, calling out racism, intolerance, sexism and poverty in America.