State Department Helped Fund ‘Disinformation’ Research Group That Reportedly Blacklists Conservative News Sites

Through its Global Engagement Center, the U.S. State Department helped to finance a group that, according to its website, works to demonetize websites it claims are spreading “disinformation.”

Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a UK-based non-profit that describes itself as a “nonpolitical” monitor and works to “disrupt disinformation’s business model, lists Disinfo Cloud as a funder. This is a now-defunct GEC project. The Washington Examiner reported that GDI collaborated with ad exchanges in order to flag disinformation purveyors.

According to its website, GDI keeps a “dynamic exclusion” list of disinformation-related offenders online. This list is then provided to ad tech companies who can “defund and lowerrank these worst offenders” and thus defund disinformation-promoting sites.

Although the exclusion lists are not publicly available, Breitbart, a popular conservative news site, is listed on the Exclusion List, according the Examiner. A member of the GDI advisory board spoke with the Examiner to confirm that it was possible for any other “riskiest” outlets to be included on the Exclusion List.

GDI identified prominent conservative news sites, including the Daily Wire and New York Post, as part of its list of news outlets considered the most dangerous for disinformation promotion. The “least dangerous” sites, however, were predominantly left-leaning.

GDI also flagged Examiner as spreading “anti-LGBTQ+ disinformation” according to an October 2022 GDI Memo. It pointed to an Amazon ad on the Examiner page. An opinion article contained the “anti-LGBTQ++” content.

The U.S.-Paris Tech Challenge was hosted by the State Department’s GEC in September 2021. This event aimed to “advance development of promising and innovative technologies împotriva disinformation and propaganda” within Europe and the U.K. This event was organized in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy Paris and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. (DFRLab), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. (CISA), and other entities.

GDI and the U.K.-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue were the two winners. ISD works to combat misinformation and disinformation and lists the U.S. State Department as government partners.

According to the Atlantic Council which collaborated with the State Department in arranging the event, the three winners will each receive $250,000 in grants.

GDI lists as its funders Pierre Omidyar’s Luminate, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

The DCNF did not receive any comment from the State Department or the Global Disinformation Index.