Global Disinformation Index, Inform Thyself
The Global Disinformation Index (GDI)—a British nonprofit that smeared Reason as an unsafe news website using dubious criteria—might want to take a closer look at newly uncovered disinformation being spread by… the website of the Global Disinformation Index.
GDI is partly funded by the U.S. State Department, and seeks to discourage advertisers from working with news outlets like Reason on the theory that we misinform our readers. (NewsGuard, a more transparent advising organization, rates Reason 100 out of 100 “for the highest adherence to journalistic practice.”) It has recently come under considerable criticism from conservative and libertarian news websites following the publication of an expose in The Washington Examiner.
GDI earned itself additional criticism this week, after the U.S. Energy Department endorsed the lab leak theory of COVID-19’s origins. Previous reports by GDI warned advertisers to blacklist news sites that attempted to blame the pandemic on a lab leak, and implied that any website asserting a cover-up on the part of the Chinese government was promoting racist disinformation with the capacity of harming Asian people. GDI’s messaging on the lab leak theory was clear and consistent: News websites that explored this topic should be demonetized. According to The Examiner‘s Gabe Kaminsky:
GDI alleged in a February 2020 report dubbed “Coronavirus: The makings of a disinformation pandemic?” that “adversarial narratives” are emerging as a key “disinformation tactic.” The report called out Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) for raising the possibility on Fox News that COVID-19 came from a lab.
“By broadcasting the Senator’s words to a national audience, this debunked conspiracy theory is given authority, validation and amplification,” said GDI in the report.
One month later, in March 2020, GDI released a report titled, “Why is Ad Tech Funding These Ads on Coronavirus Conspiracy Sites?”
The report, which slammed Google and other companies for “providing ad revenue streams to known disinformation sites peddling coronavirus conspiracies,” called out the conservative blog American Thinker for publishing a commentary article titled “The Wuhan Virus Escaped From a Chinese Lab.” GDI also took aim at a company selling N-95 masks for advertising in the article.
Portraying the lab leak notion as a dangerous, racist conspiracy theory never made any sense, and journalists, health officials, and disinformation t
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