Selling right-wing propaganda for kids on Facebook is big business
Kids too young for Fox News? Mike Huckabee has a product for you!
As the right-wing media ecosystem continues doing extraordinary harm to our political discourse and civic culture, some operatives and grifters are trying to expand their reach into a new vertical: children’s literature. One company, somehow affiliated with Mike Huckabee, has spent millions over the years on Facebook ads selling kids’ books like “The Kids Guide to Stopping Socialism” and “The Kids Guide to President Trump” - and they’ve got competition, to boot.
A product of Everbright Media, “The Kids Guide” Facebook page has spent over $2.1 million on Facebook ads since its page was created in March of last year, over $200,000 of which was spent in the past two weeks. In fact, they went up with Facebook ads almost immediately with ads like these targeting parent-aged adults all over the country.
More recently, as the American Rescue Plan was being considered by Congress and as Democrats start trying to push other bold pieces of legislation, The Kids Guide’s ads have been focusing on convincing parents that their kids need to learn about “fighting socialism.”
Clicking these ads brings parents and prospective customers to this page:
Everbright Media provides a subscription service to The Kids Guide and their other brands - like “Learn Our History”, “Moneybright Kids”, “Rules of the Road - Driving Character in Kids”, “Everbright News”, and a magazine called “Everbright Kids” - where parents will get one of these propagandist booklets every month along with accompanying digital workbooks to make sure the kids really remember what they’re consuming. To quote one of their websites: “As your children use our products, their pride and patriotism for our great nation will be reinforced.”
Unfortunately for fans of public civic education, Huckabee isn’t the only one making this ploy. Connor Boyack, the founder of a Utah-based libertarian think tank is using his organization to push his own propagandist kids' books, called “The Tuttle Twins”. The think tank, Libertas Institute, has spent $44,483 on Facebook ads in the past two weeks, some of which use memes and political cartoons to sell their product. FWIW, most of these ads are primarily targeted at women aged 35-44.
Like The Kids Guide, Boyack also offers an economics for kids homeschooling curriculum through “The Tuttle Twins”, but he pumps right-wing economic theory directly into his text. In one book, the titular twins meet the founder of anarcho-capitalism, and in another (unsubtly titled “The Road to Surfdom”, explicitly recalling free-market economist F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom”), the characters find that “central planning can ruin people’s lives.”
While Libertas Institute hasn’t spent over $2 million advertising their books on Facebook like Mike Huckabee and Everbright media have, they use one clever trick: influencer marketing. They recruit fans that are “eager to spread the message of freedom” and then ask them to post promo codes on their own social media feeds or websites, and the “affiliates” then get paid for a portion of their sales.
The Tuttle Twins Facebook page also has over 110,000 followers, and they regularly post free-market and anti-socialist memes that get them more than 20,000 interactions per week, according to data from CrowdTangle. Here’s a taste of their top posts from the past month.
Facebook advertising has long been an ideal way for pro-Trump LLC’s and grifters to make a quick buck scamming conservatives out of their hard-earned money. These pages, however, are getting more creative than usual in their tactics + content.