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State Department-funded ‘disinformation’ tracker hides tax filings while urging transparency


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Washington Examiner

A State Department-backed “disinformation” tracker under congressional investigation is shielding key details about its operations from the Washington Examiner despite blacklisting conservative media outlets for having “opaque ownership structures.”

The Global Disinformation Index has faced heightened scrutiny from Republican lawmakers over the British group’s covert efforts to defund websites it disagrees with, and it is also at the center of a new lawsuit against the State Department over the agency wiring $100,000 to GDI. While GDI brands itself as a “nonpartisan” proponent of transparency, that didn’t stop its two affiliated nonprofit groups in the United States from providing the Washington Examiner with heavily redacted copies of their newly filed 2022 financial disclosures, a maneuver tax experts warn likely violates federal law.


‘Transparency in the media’

GDI’s transparency flop further underscores how the purported disinformation tracker hardly practices what it preaches, a fact that has, in part, propelled House Republicans to weigh subpoenaing the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, which granted $100,000 to GDI in 2021. GDI, which has come under fire for broadly labeling conservative outlets as “disinformation” and celebrating liberal outlets that have published certain false or debunked stories, feeds a “dynamic exclusion list” to advertisers each month in order to strip revenue from websites that lean right. GDI said in a December 2022 report that it rates websites based on “conflicts of interests that can arise from opaque ownership structures” and rebuked the New York Post for “its lack of transparency around operational policies and practices.”

“The Global Disinformation Index is violating the law by hiding its disclosures, and that’s pretty funny and hypocritical for a group that pretends it cares about transparency in the media,” conservative lawyer Mike Davis, who leads the Internet Accountability Project, a group seeking to rein in the power of Big Tech social media platforms, told the Washington Examiner.

GDI does not publicize its “dynamic exclusion list,” and it has repeatedly not replied to requests for this document. Microsoft and Oracle previously subscribed to the list but stopped after reports from the Washington Examiner on GDI’s erroneous determinations of what constitutes “disinformation.” For instance, GDI flagged an opinion article in the Washington Examiner, which focused on a study finding liberals are less “satisfied” with their lives, as a form of “disinformation,” and seemingly pressured the France-based company Criteo to stop placing ads in the outlet.:snip:

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