The Citizen’s Starter Kit to the top 50 Organizations in the Global Censorship Cartel
The following is a list of the top 50 organisations in the global Censorship Industrial Complex. You may be shocked to realise that the UK Army’s 77th Brigade is ranked a lowly number 42. That should tell you something!
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The following are excerpts from ‘Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex: The Top 50 Organisations to Know’ published by Racket News on 10 May 2023. In the main, our excerpts serve to provide a simplified list of the organisations included in Racket News’ comprehensive Report. For ease of reference, the numbers in our list correlate to the numbers in the original Report. We recommend readers at the very least select one or two organisations of interest and read the details the Report contains HERE. It will be eye-opening.
“The Top 50 List” is intended as a resource for reporters and researchers beginning their journey toward learning the scale and ambition of the “Censorship-Industrial Complex (“CIC”).” Written like a magazine feature, it tries to answer a few basic questions about funding, organisation type, history, and especially, methodology. Many anti-disinformation groups adhere to the same formulaic approach to research, often using the same “hate-mapping,” guilt-by-association-type analysis to identify wrong-thinkers and suppressive persons.
A democratic society requires the nourishment of free debate, disagreement, and intellectual tension, but the groups below seek instead a “shared vocabulary” to deploy on the hybrid battlefield. They propose to serve as the guardians of that “vocabulary.”
You may have read about them when: You first heard the terms Mis-, dis-, and malinformation. The term was coined by FD Director Claire Wardle. IFL/FD are also the only academic/non-profit organisation involved in the Trusted News Initiative, a large-scale legacy media consortium established to control debate around the pandemic response.
What we know about funding: First Draft was funded by a huge number of entities including Craig Newmark, Rockefeller, the National Science Foundation, Facebook, the Ford Foundation, Google, the Knight Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, Open Society Foundations, and more. Funding for the IFL includes the Rockefeller Foundation for a “building vaccine demand” initiative.
Closely connected to: Almost all the leading lights of the CIC, including the Stanford Internet Observatory, the Trusted News Initiative, Shorenstein Centre, DFRLabs, the World Economic Forum, the Aspen Institute, Meedan, and Bellingcat.
2. Meedan. You may have read about them when: Meedan ran a range of Covid-19 misinformation initiatives “to support pandemic fact-checking efforts” with funding from Big Tech, the Omidyar Foundation, the National Science Foundation and more. Partners included Britain’s now-disgraced Behavioural Insights Team, or “nudge unit.” In sum: Meedan exemplifies the NGO-to-Stasi stylistic shift, where spying and snitching on private messages in the name of “anti-disinformation” is now considered a public good.
3. Harvard Shorenstein Centre on Media, Politics and Public Policy (Technology and Social Change Project). Type: An elite academic project once regarded as one of the leading centres in the “anti-disinformation” field. In sum: An “anti-disinformation” project that got it wrong so often, even the centre that housed it cut ties.
4. The Public Good Projects. Type: Non-profit consultancy, specialising in health communications, marketing, technology and “disinformation.” In sum: A sophisticated communications and technology outfit with close Big Tech and Big Pharma partners, and a mission to stop “misinformation.”
5. Graphika. Type: For-profit firm with defence connections specialising in “digital marketing and disinformation & analysis.” In sum: With deep Pentagon ties and a patina of public-facing commercial legitimacy, Graphika is set up to be the Rand Corporation of the Anti-Disinformation age.
6. Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLabs) of the Atlantic Council. Type: Public-facing disinformation research arm of highly influential, extravagantly funded, NATO-aligned think tank, the Atlantic Council.
7. Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO). In sum: The Stanford Internet Observatory may or may not continue to have a high-profile role in building out the CIC, but figures like Renee DiResta and Alex Stamos have already fulfilled a substantial historical function by organising cross-platform content sweeps for Covid-19 and the 2020 election.
What we know about funding: Over $4 million a year goes from Facebook to IFCN partner organisations. Poynter and Politifact meanwhile list the Craig Newmark Foundation, the Koch Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Omidyar Network, the National Endowment for Democracy, Microsoft, and the Washington Post as funders, among others.
What they do/What they are selling: At-scale, enterprise effort to fact-check earth.
Gibberish verbiage: Little to none. IFCN/Politifact are mostly operated and maintained by people with relationships to journalism, and its products are designed to be consumed by broad audiences.
In sum: The IFCN in particular is a huge-scale fact-checking operation whose conflicted relationship with Meta/Facebook may provide a template for future truth contractors.
9. Integrity Initiative / Institute for Statecraft. Type: Shady-as-F spook world surveillance and information control plan that will send you voiding in terror. In sum: Straight Outta Orwell! The Integrity Initiative documents represent one of the most consequential intelligence leaks of all time — the very dirty underpants of NATO.
10. National Conference on Citizenship / Algorithmic Transparency Institute. You may have read about them when: Via its Junkipedia initiative. ATI also runs the “Civic Listening Corps,” “a volunteer network of individuals trained to monitor for, critically evaluate, and report misinformation.”
11. Park Advisors. In sum: A now defunct (and hard to find) disinformation advisory group, connected to GEC, that created a digital testbed for “counter-disinformation” tools.
12. New Knowledge AI, rebranded as Yonder AI, was acquired by Primer. Type: For-profit internet company that worked for brands and national security entities searching platforms for narrative control, along with detecting narrative manipulation from malign actors.
13. Moonshot CVE. Type: For-profit tech company working with public and private industry partners to detect and prevent online hate.
14. Annenberg Public Policy Centre (home of Factcheck.org). Type: Privately funded Public Policy Research Centre affiliated with the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. In Sum: The Annenberg Public Policy Centre is one tentacle of the Annenberg Foundation’s larger influence operation masquerading as a think tank. Its analysis is informed by and ultimately loyal to the ghosts of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth and Walter Annenberg.
15. German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy. In sum: The German Marshall Fund is a large pass-through for funding from the US and other NATO governments as well as the largest industrialists in those nations to try to shape public perception through front organisations.
16. Ad Council. In sum: An advertising behemoth created by the largest corporations in WWII to sell war is still, well, doing that.
17. Clemson University Media Forensics Hub. In sum: Communications professors at Clemson managed to secure a lot of funding from a retired academic and defence contractor who played a very critical role in the Strategic Defence Initiative under the Reagan Administration for a social media analysis/disinformation centre, built largely to feed information to journalists that Twitter’s own analyses consistently refuted.
18. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). In sum: A new sub-agency of Homeland Security with a monster budget, strong university connections, and a giant purview to the middle of a bureaucratic morass of various other federal agencies and departments, all of whom also have a piece of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure protection portfolio; has rivals in DoD, Department of Energy, FBI, Secret Service and among the intelligence community.
19. Bellingcat. Type: For-profit Netherlands-based investigative journalism organisation that seems mostly to investigate and/or denounce the practitioners of journalism. In sum: The “independent” journalist consortium’s spook-a-rific investor group and malodorous contributor roster call into question its agenda-free reporting.
20. Centre for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Type: CEPA is a non-profit public policy institution based in Washington, D.C. In sum: CEPA seeks to advance transatlantic political “values” and strengthen transatlantic cooperation to “ensure our collective defence and future security.”
21. Centre for an Informed Public at the University of Washington. In sum: Through public and private financing, the CIP used its academic status to help with some of the largest censorship efforts targeting speech relating to the 2020 election and Covid-19.
22. Aspen Institute. Type: It has the reputation (and the geographical profile) of an American Davos. In sum: The Aspen Institute is an influential organisation that receives tens of millions of dollars in funding from the US government to comprehensively advance solutions to the world’s problems so that we don’t have to.
23. Trusted News Initiative. Type: Trusted News Initiative is a partnership “founded by the BBC” that includes media and technology organisations from around the world, including Google and YouTube, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, The CBC, The Washington Post, AP, Thomson Reuters, the Information Futures Lab/First Draft, and several more. In sum: A mammoth anti-disinformation initiative bringing together the biggest media and tech companies on the planet.
24. Automated Controversy Detection. In sum: Automated Controversy Detection takes anti-misinformation mission creep to the next level with its open and explicit AI-driven approach to the surveillance of the “content that triggers you.”
25. Centre for Countering Digital Hate. Type: An NGO cut-out engaged in brazen smearing, attacking dissenting views, de-platforming, censoring and pro-active shrinkage of the Overton window. You may have read about them when: They issued a report called the “Disinformation Dozen.” In sum: Institutional anger-merchant NGO with a murky background and bulldog mentality ready to attack all and sundry, to institute their regime of censorship.
26. Craig Newmark Philanthropies. Type: A large philanthropy founded by the inventor of Craigslist, with a special focus on journalism and disinformation. In sum: A mega-fund core to power the explosive growth of the Censorship-Industrial complex.
27. Omidyar Group. Type: A series of foundations from the founder of eBay providing a huge amount of funding to the Censorship-Industrial complex. In sum: This is a mega-fund and driving force behind the Censorship-Industrial Complex.
28. The Knight Foundation. In sum: A leading force in developing the ecosystem of anti-disinformation organisations, particularly in the US.
29. Google Jigsaw. In sum: Perhaps the slickest and most technically sophisticated of the censorship and speech control initiatives.
30. Full Fact.
Type: A leading UK “fact-checking” “NGO” with mountains of money from Big Tech.
You may have read about them when: Founded by Michael John Samuel, the son of an aristocrat, Full Fact epitomises the elitism and down-talking of the “fact-checking” industry. Full Fact was the first UK member of Facebook’s Third-Party Fact-Checking program. Full Fact led a successful campaign to have vaccine critic and Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen removed from the party. Full Fact has even developed its own AI-driven Robocop to police speech online.
What we know about funding: Full Fact takes huge amounts of Big Tech money, almost $2.5 million between 2019-2021 from Facebook alone. Another example of corporations funding the people who supposedly keep them accountable. They also receive strong support from Google, Poynter, and Omidyar.
What they do/What they are selling: Truth policing in the service of the powerful.
In sum: Leading candidate for the inevitable UK Big Brother award.
32. Miburo/Digital Threat Analysis Centre. Anti-disinformation lives, even on Substack!
33. Credibility Coalition. An oddly vague group of researchers that has poured resources into trying to develop what it calls a “shared vocabulary for credibility.”
35. Duke Reporters’ Lab.
36. Reveal. This EU-funded “social media verification” site is, like many European anti-disinformation projects, more overtly terrifying in its dystopian aims than some of its American counterparts.
39. Institute for Strategic Dialogue Also funded by the US State Department, the Britain-based ISD offers another smorgasbord of content-suffocation tools, including a “hate-mapper” service and a product called Beam.
40. Wikipedia. Wikipedia, like many tech behemoths, plays the role of a defender of free speech in certain circumstances, but lately, it has become perhaps the most furious grindstone of digital conformity in Western media outside Twitter, Google, and Facebook, institutionalising a system of blockages that increasingly only let through information reported on in an approving way by large corporate or academic institutions.
41. EU Disinfo Lab.
42. UK 77th Brigade. It should tell the reader something that the formation of an active military unit by a key NATO partner which is openly devoted to fighting online “disinformation” and has been credibly accused of mass surveillance of its own citizenry is just the 42nd entry on our list.
43. Claim Buster.
44. DisinfoCloud. It featured a “continuously updated news feed” of disinformation-related items, often with fairly far-out recommendations to “nearly 300 organisations.” This blogged material was available to “select government, civil society, and private sector users.”
45. MythDetector. The fact-checking arm of the Media Development Foundation, funded by USAID and the German Marshall Fund.
46. Verified. The inevitable creep-tastic United Nations fact-checking initiative.
Featured image left: Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex: The Top 50 Organisations to Know, Racket News, 10 May 2023