US State Department Funding Secret 'Disinformation' Crusade To Blacklist Conservative Media
The US Department of State has been funding a "disinformation" tracking group through its Global Engagement Center (GEC), which reportedly works at demonetizing sites it accuses of disseminating "disinformation," - which are overwhelmingly conservative news outlets, the Washington Examiner reports.
The Global Disinformation Index, a British organization with two affiliated U.S. nonprofit groups, is feeding blacklists to ad companies with the intent of defunding and shutting down websites peddling alleged "disinformation," the Washington Examiner reported. This same "disinformation" group has received $330,000 from two State Department-backed entities linked to the highest levels of government, raising concerns from First Amendment lawyers and members of Congress.
GDI through its website maintains a "dynamic exclusion list" of the worst offenders of disinformation online, which it then distributes to ad tech companies - such as Microsoft's Xandr - in order to try and "defund and downrank these worst offenders," and deprive said sites of ad revenue.
According to The American Conserviative executive director Emily Doak, "They might consider TAC a ‘high-risk’ publication because we have consistently taken on the bipartisan establishment’s sacred cows, whether it's the war in Iraq, nation-building in Afghanistan, or the harm done by free trade and open borders — and we’ve been proven right time and time again," adding "They know they can't say we're wrong, only that we're biased and 'high-risk,' so we will wear that designation as a badge of honor."
In 2018, the GEC began funding Disinfo Cloud, a State Department spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. The GEC awarded roughly $300,000 to an investment group called Park Advisers, which fights "disinformation, terrorism, violent extremism, hate speech" to manage Disinfo Cloud, the spokesperson said.
Park Advisers implemented Disinfo Cloud "to provide the U.S. government and its partners with a database of the tools and technologies available to help push back against foreign propaganda and disinformation," according to its website, which links to Disinfo Cloud's former landing page that has since been pulled off the internet. -Washington Examiner
One State Department-funded group which supports GDI is the nonprofit National Endowment for Democracy, which receives nearly 100% of its funding from congressional appropriations ($300 million in 2021), which critics have argued is essentially giving money to a government grantmaking body despite its status as a private entity.
In 2020, $230,000 went from the NED to the AN foundation, a GDI group that also goes by the Disinformation Index Foundation. The grant was to "deepen understanding of the challenges to information integrity in the digital space" in Asia, Africa and other foreign countries, and to "assess disinformation risks of local online media ecosystems."
The Global Engagement Center notably appeared in the Twitter Files reported by @mtaibbi https://t.co/M3LM3PkkrX— Gabe Kaminsky (@gekaminsky) February 10, 2023
Meanwhile in September 2021, the GEC hosted the US-Paris Tech Challenge - an event which sought to "advance the development of promising and innovative technologies against disinformation and propaganda" in Europe and the UK. The event was a "collaboration with U.S. Embassy Paris, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)" and several other organizations.
Civil rights experts are appalled.
"Any outfit like that engaged in censorship shouldn't have any contact with the government because they're tainted by association with a group that is doing something fundamentally against American values," said Jeffrey Clark, former acting head of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division in a statement to the Examiner. "The government or any private entity shouldn't be involved with this entity that's engaged in conduct that is either legally questionable or at least morally questionable."
In addition to Park Advisers and Disinfo Cloud, partners for the Paris challenge included the Atlantic Council, a major think tank, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and others, according to the State Department.— Gabe Kaminsky (@gekaminsky) February 10, 2023
Meanwhile, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) said: "Last year, under tremendous bipartisan pressure, I refused to reauthorize the Global Engagement Center because such a step seemed premature," adding "The most recent allegations, if verified, confirm the need for a strict accounting of all U.S. taxpayer funds going to the GEC."
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) says that the Biden administration is "knee deep" in left-leaning efforts to "crack down" on speech - telling the Examiner: "House Republicans will be hauling these bad actors before Congress, and I absolutely support legislation to ban federal funding of anti-free speech groups."