The major software company Oracle is parting ways with the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a federally funded group caught blacklisting conservative media outlets for what it calls misinformation, the Washington Examiner reported Wednesday.
“After conducting review, we agree with others in the advertising industry that the services we provide marketers must be in full support of free speech, which is why we are ending our relationship with GDI,” Oracle’s vice president for corporate communications told the Examiner’s Gabe Kaminsky.
Oracle formed a partnership with GDI two years ago to help the brand navigate online advertising. In February, Kaminsky exposed that federal funding is behind this disinformation index, which blacklists conservative websites from the British-based network’s market recommendations. In other words, GDI influences advertisers to pull their dollars and thus silence speech dissenting from left-wing orthodoxy. The Global Disinformation Index received $330,000 from the State Department while clients such as Oracle were discouraged from advertising with conservative outlets.
“To prevent placements on disinformation sites, brands require a proactive, always-on brand safety approach that helps marketers identify suitable environments while avoiding brand-damaging ones,” Oracle said when the group struck a deal to work with GDI in August 2021. “Today, we’re proud to announce a collaboration with The Global Disinformation Index (GDI), an independent non-profit that provides trusted, non-partisan ratings to assess a site’s disinformation risk, to help marketers safeguard ad spend and protect brands from inadvertently supporting disinformation sites.”
Two years and a series of exposés on GDI’s malfeasance later, Oracle has now cut ties with the group. According to the Washington Examiner, Oracle joins Microsoft, which announced two months ago that it would temporarily split from the disinformation index. The National Endowment for Democracy, which the Examiner says is “funded almost entirely through congressional appropriations” and bankrolled the Global Disinformation Index with more than $545,000, also severed its relationship with the online censorship group.
The Global Disinformation Index’s blacklisting of conservative websites drew the attention of Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee probing the weaponization of the federal government heard from witnesses who condemned the index’s censorship at a March hearing of the subcommittee.
“We learned Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other companies developed a formal system for taking in moderation requests from every corner of government, from the FBI, the DHS, the HHS, DOD, the Global Engagement Center at State, even the CIA,” said Substack journalist Matt Taibbi.
“For every government agency scanning Twitter,” Taibbi added, “there were perhaps 20 quasi-private entities doing the same, including Stanford’s Election Integrity Project, NewsGuard, the Global Disinformation Index, and others, many taxpayer-funded.”
Lawmakers signaled a greater focus on NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index in future hearings.
In March, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., who serves on the House Judiciary Committee but not the Select Weaponization Subcommittee, penned a letter to the State Department decrying the government censorship.
“The GDI has used this funding to create a list of news organizations for advertisers and business interests to abstain from doing business … in an attempt to limit these organizations’ participation in the marketplace of ideas,” Buck wrote. “Paying foreign (and domestic) entities to perform what is essentially censorship is troubling on two fronts: it wastes taxpayer funds and undermines constitutional protections for freedom of speech.”