Oracle Drops UK-Based Disinfo Nannies After Conservative Blacklisting Cited In Lawsuit
Gabe Kaminsky of the Washington Examiner is out with another report on the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a UK-based group which targets and blacklists conservative websites in order to drain them of revenue and support by working with "advertisers and the ad tech industry in assessing the reputational and brand risk when advertising with online media outlets and to help them avoid financially supporting disinformation online."
As Kaminsky reports, software giant Oracle announced on Wednesday that it will no longer collaborate with GDI, which has received just under $666,000 from the US State Department between 2020 and 2021. The news comes one day after GDI was cited in a lawsuit against the Biden administration which claims the government has colluded with big tech to censor free speech.
This same British entity, which has two affiliated United States nonprofit groups that have come under fire for shielding information from their 2021 tax forms, was cited in a Tuesday friend-of-the-court brief filed by Alliance Defending Freedom in State of Louisiana v. Biden — a lawsuit filed in May 2022 that claims the government has colluded with Big Tech to stifle discourse online. -Washington Examiner
"All signs point to a growing government influence over social media," reads the brief. "The Biden Administration admitted as early as 2021 that it was flagging and reporting posts on Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms as COVID-19-related 'misinformation.' A recent report found that the U.S. State Department sent $330 million [sic] to The Global Disinformation Index, a British organization that is attempting to discredit and blacklist many conservative news outlets for peddling 'disinformation.'"
Kaminsky notes that the brief mistakenly attributes $330 million sent to the National Endowment for Democracy to the GDI, when in reality the NED has granted money to GDI out of the $330 million. Following the Examiner's reporting on the grants, the NED announced in late February that they were cutting off funding to GDI.
Louisiana v. Biden was brought forth by Republican attorneys general Jeff Landry of Louisiana and then-Missouri's Eric Schmitt, now a senator for The Show-Me State. The lawsuit alleges that the Biden administration infringed on the public's First Amendment Rights through its efforts working with Big Tech employees to engage in content moderation related to election integrity, COVID-19, Hunter Biden's infamous abandoned laptop, and more.
For instance, Landry released a document in January showing that the White House urged a Facebook employee in April 2021 to restrict posts about Fox News host Tucker Carlson claiming that there have been efficacy issues with "vaccines." The White House also told Facebook in May 2021 that "slowing down" posts appearing to be "anti-vax" would be "reasonable," and also urged Twitter to remove a post by anti-vaccine critic Robert Kennedy, Jr., who recently announced his Democratic bid for White House in 2024, documents show. -Washington Examiner
"Government should be freedom’s strongest defender, not its greatest threat," said senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, Travis Barham, in a Wednesday statement. "Americans don’t look to the White House or Silicon Valley to discover and express the truth. That’s not the role of government, and it certainly isn’t the role of Big Tech."
Oracle, meanwhile, told the Examiner that it would no longer maintain a relationship with GDI, which they had previously announced a 2021 collaboration with in order to engage in "brand safety."
"After conducting a review, we agree with others in the advertising industry that the services we provide marketers must be in full support of free speech, which is why we are ending our relationship with GDI," said Michael Egbert, vice president for corporate communications at Oracle.
Microsoft has similarly launched an internal investigation into its partnership with GDI after ad industry whistleblowers revealed how conservative sites were being blacklisted by the Microsoft-owned Xandr as "false/misleading" , "reprehensible/offensive" , or "hate speech."
Meanwhile, GDI's co-founder and CEO Clare Melford was sent a letter on Tuesday by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who demanded its two affiliated nonprofit groups in the U.S. release a "complete and unredacted list of donors." The letter came days after a Washington Examiner investigation revealed that the private AN Foundation, also known as the Disinformation Index Foundation, and its affiliated public charity, Disinformation Index Inc., are shielding items like board members, officers, and donors from tax forms, while claiming to be "harassed" under a little-known federal exemption law. -Washington Examiner
"This is outrageous," said Paul Kamenar, counsel to the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog that plans to file an IRS complaint against both GDI groups, in a statement last week.