Deep-pocketed donors bankroll global panel cracking down on ‘misinformation’

By Around the Web

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

By Jason Cohen
Daily Caller News Foundation

  • Foundations with large endowments and a history of bankrolling leftist causes are partnering to finance a new global group of researchers to fight online misinformation.
  • The International Panel on the Information Environment (IPIE) had its first official meeting in Washington on Wednesday including over 200 researchers from 55 countries. They focused on the reduction of public understanding and belief in science, according to The New York Times, and the panel was funded by organizations like the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Skoll Foundation, according to its website.
  • Misinformation moderation has been used in recent years to target conservative online speech and right-leaning news outlets.

Wealthy organizations with a history of backing left-wing causes are partnering with a new worldwide group of researchers to combat online misinformation.

The International Panel on the Information Environment (IPIE) convened in Washington for its first official meeting on Wednesday, bringing together over 200 researchers from 55 countries to focus on the decline of public comprehension and confidence in science, according to The New York Times. It is partnered with groups such as the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Skoll Foundation, according to its website.

Many of IPIE’s backers have a history of bankrolling left-wing groups and causes. The Ford Foundation supported the launching of the Black Feminist Fund in 2021 with $15 million in seed funding, according to its website.

The Ford Foundation has also contributed over $4 million since 2010 to Media Matters for America, a left-wing media watchdog that describes itself as “dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing and correcting conservative misinformation,” according to its grants database.

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The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has invested nearly a million dollars in anti-Israel organizations such as Jewish Voices for Peace, Zochrot and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, according to Tablet.

The Skoll Foundation has a global threats fund that invests in efforts to prevent climate change, stating it “requires urgent attention,” according to its website. The researchers in the IPIE were inspired by the tactics of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and feel online misinformation is analogous to the risks posed by global warming, according to the NYT.

“Funding sources do not influence The International Panel on the Information Environment (IPIE) or its work,” IPIE told the DCNF.

Misinformation moderation has been used in recent years to target conservative online speech and right-leaning news outlets. In 2020, the New York Post published a factual story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, but it was heavily censored by Facebook and Twitter under the pretext of combating Russian disinformation.

Multiple funds managed by Arabella Advisors, a Democrat-connected consultant company, financed research by universities and nonprofits investigating how online “misinformation” and “disinformation” disseminate, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review. Many of the projects characterize conservatives as the main sources of misinformation and several of them advise censorship as a possible solution to stop the spread.

In its inaugural report, the IPIE researchers looked into the efficacy of countering online misinformation using content moderation, arguing there are other strategies supported by stronger scientific evidence, according to the NYT. Their findings suggest the most efficient approaches involve labeling content as “disputed” and identifying state media sources while posting corrective content.

The report expresses far less confidence in the success of government endeavors to exert pressure on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to censor content, according to the NYT.

“Algorithmic bias, manipulation and misinformation has become a global and existential threat that exacerbates existing social problems, degrades public life, cripples humanitarian initiatives and prevents progress on other serious threats,” the panel wrote, according to the NYT.

Numerous presenters at the conference cautioned that the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence could worsen the spread of disinformation globally, according to the NYT.

The IPIE was introduced during at three-day meeting arranged by the Nobel Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences, according to the NYT. Sheldon Himelfarb, CEO of PeaceTech Lab, a nonprofit organization working to decrease violence using technology, media and data, is the group’s executive director; it is registered as a nongovernmental organization in Zurich.

The Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Skoll Foundation did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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