Meet The Shadowy Group That Ran The Federal Government’s Censorship Scheme
The biggest concern is what GEC paid Park Advisors to do: fund and coordinate the censorship of Americans’ speech and our supposedly free press.
The State Department’s Global Engagement Center used a cutout corporation headed by a former intelligence officer to fund and promote the blacklisting of conservative media outlets and other censorship endeavors, research by The Federalist reveals.
When Elon Musk gave a group of independent journalists access to internal Twitter communications, the resulting “Twitter Files” quickly revealed the existence of a Censorship-Industrial Complex that included an array of federal agencies colluding with social media companies to censor disfavored speech. One of the many federal players was the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) — but GEC did much more than cajole tech giants to censor viewpoints the government didn’t like.
As The Federalist previously reported, GEC funded the development of censorship tools and used “government employees to act as sales reps pitching the censorship products to Big Tech.” Further investigation into its operations now reveals the government’s GEC used one or more for-profit businesses to lead four separate censorship initiatives with contractors at times engaging in “inherently governmental functions.”
This graphic from GEC provides a simple summary of its Technology Engagement Team (TET) initiatives, but Disinfo Cloud provides the best entry point to understanding GEC’s other activities.
Disinfo Cloud Casts a Big Shadow
According to GEC’s webpage, Disinfo Cloud is a “platform that acts as a repository to catalogue an ever-growing list of CPD tools and technologies,” with “CPD” standing for “countering propaganda and disinformation.” While originally available only to “.mil and .gov” users, access was later opened to the private sector.
Then as part of its “Silicon Valley Engagement” initiative, GEC pushed social media companies to join Disinfo Cloud, which helped users identify technologies for censoring speech. This has huge First Amendment implications because although many details of Disinfo Cloud’s operations and funding remain obscure, it’s clear U.S. tax dollars funded both the platform’s development and maintenance.
A State Department spokesman previously explained that an outside group, Park Advisors, managed Disinfo Cloud, awarding the group approximately $300,000 to manage the platform. Christina Nemr, a former State Department employee who had been a founding member of the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, served as the director of Park Advisors and the administrator of Disinfo Cloud.
Park Advisors Overshadowed the GEC
While Disinfo Cloud was a GEC initiative, it appears Park Advisors and Nemr controlled the platform at DisinfoCloud.com, which has since been shuttered. Park Advisors has also recently removed the content of its webpage, leaving only the landing page. A still-available video, however, shows Nemr explaining the repository.
After Disinfo Cloud identified a tool for countering so-called “disinformation,” Nemr’s team would conduct open-source research to learn everything possible about the tool, including who made it and what technology was involved, and then summarize the research in a one- to three-page report. Next, Disinfo Cloud would contact the tool’s creator, requesting a remote demonstration and seeking more technical details, after which it would compile a 10- to 12-page report on the technology. Disinfo Cloud had reviewed about 200 different technologies, which were added to its repository.
Disinfo Cloud also helped users — including private social media companies — identify the best available censorship tools “to counter propaganda and disinformation.”
Publicly available information indicates Park Advisors and Nemr did much more than create and manage Disinfo Cloud. Its subscribers also received a weekly “Disinfo Digest,” which Nemr launched in December 2020 to inform users “of the latest news, events, funding opportunities, and other updates related to disinformation, including from the tech vendors featured on Disinfo Cloud.”
Along with promoting its own platform, Disinfo Cloud’s Twitter account also promoted Disinfo Digest and the Tech Demo Series. The account also amplified the marketing of private censorship tools and companies, such as the unreliable media-ratings organizations Global Disinformation Index and NewsGuard.
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