USAID’s “Disinformation Primer:” Documents Reveal Censorship Promotion Across Sectors

USAID’s “Disinformation Primer:” Documents Reveal Censorship Promotion Across Sectors | Didi Rankovic

The authorities in the US are once again caught red-handed promoting censorship, this time via the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID is normally used by the US government to spread its influence around the world, but now, according to documents from a case against the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC), the agency also actively participates in analyzing and spreading various censorship methods.

The lawsuit in question was filed by America First Legal (AFL), alleging that the State Department, via GEC, engages with private media to advance what the non-profit believes is government/private sector censorship and propaganda collusion.

Now, USAID’s controversial activities have also been exposed thanks to the lawsuit, which revealed that one of the agency’s bureaus, the Center on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) has come up with a “Disinformation Primer” – a 97-page document marked as being “for internal use only.”

The Disinformation Primer – in fact, a censorship primer, to sum up the Foundation for Freedom Online watchdog’s interpretationof the strategy – was “up and running” only one month after Joe Biden got sworn in, in February 2021.

The extensive “primer” seeks to exert influence on how private tech, but also media companies can increase the level of existing censorship; the already existing engagement with private entities is at the same time commended by USAID.

Other targets, more in line with USAID’s overall activities, include foreign governments, specifically education departments, and funding sources. Inevitably, more “partners” are NGOs, non-profits, and think tanks, often themselves with ties to the government.

Some of the censorship techniques that USAID likes and recommends are Advertiser Outreach, which is designed to cut off media and accounts on social platforms from ad revenue, if their speech is what’s known as “disfavored” (by those in power).

Another is propping up legacy media as these outlets steadily lose trust, with things like “prebunking” and the Redirect Method, developed by Google, which “relies on advertising using an online advertising platform such as Google AdWords, targeting tools and algorithms to combat online radicalization that comes from the spread and threat of dangerous, misleading information.”

One striking quote from the document is that gaming sites and gamers should be prevented from forming “interpretations of the world that differ from ‘mainstream’ sources.”

Worth noting is that this censorship, propaganda and indoctrination “handbook” – aimed at curtailing citizens’ freedom of expression and thought – was made using taxpayer money.

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