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House GOP probes State Department’s censorship ties to social media giants

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House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan has initiated an inquiry into possible collaboration between federal agencies and social media companies on content moderation. In particular, Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are seeking information about the Global Engagement Center (GEC), an interagency within the State Department, regarding grants awarded to organizations fighting “misinformation.”

The Gazette reports that a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, penned by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and endorsed by seven other Republicans, accuses the GEC of deviating from its original mission by funding organizations like the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab.

These organizations have been accused of contributing to the censorship of online speech.

According to the letter, the GEC was initially established to offer a reliable source of truth about America and its battle against global terrorism. However, the lawmakers express concern over the GEC’s expanded scope and question the legitimacy of its current activities.

We obtained a copy of the letter for you here.

A September 2022 report by the State Department’s inspector general identified shortcomings in the GEC’s efforts to combat foreign threats and assess the use of its overseas grants.

Subsequently, House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans postponed the reauthorization of the GEC until internal staffing, organizational structure, and policy priorities were addressed. The GEC’s legal authority is set to expire on December 23, 2024, unless Congress takes action, the report stated.

The letter highlights instances of the GEC’s collaboration with the disinformation tracking industry, such as the development of a video game called Cat Park, which aims to “educate” players about disinformation tactics.

Additionally, the GEC-funded GDI has identified the American Spectator, Newsmax, the Federalist, the American Conservative, One America News, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, RealClearPolitics, Reason, and the New York Post as the 10 riskiest news outlets for “disinformation.”

Furthermore, the GEC has allegedly granted funds to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Lab, which identified over 40,000 Twitter accounts in June 2021 as engaging in inauthentic behavior and promoting Hindi nationalism.

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