Right-wing news and opinion sites have long argued that Big Tech is clearly biased against their point of view — and a recent revelation about one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent names seems to further justify that perception.
According to recent reports, an advertising company owned by Microsoft had been using the information provided by a group called Global Disinformation Index to place “rejection flags” on content from certain supposedly “risky” sites. This move served as a blacklist of sorts that cost conservative sites advertising revenue.
Now, Microsoft has reportedly backed away from that practice and its Xandr ad platform is no longer using the GDI to make such determinations.
One insider told the Washington Examiner, a site that had been flagged for “false/misleading” information, that “all rejection flags have been removed from domains.
Affirming the clear partisan bias in GDI’s process, other sites with a similar flag include outlets like Newsmax, the Daily Wire, Drudge Report, Breitbart, the Washington Times, and TheBlaze.
A number of those sites were also on GDI’s list of the 10 “riskiest” platforms, which also includes seemingly mainstream, if somewhat conservative, outlets like the New York Post. Meanwhile, the index’s list of the 10 “least risky” outlets was made up of predominantly left-leaning sites like Buzzfeed News, HuffPost, and NPR.
GDI reportedly compiled its data with input from an “advisory panel” made up of people like Facebook Global Lead for Threat Intelligence Ben Nimmo and Anne Applebaum, a liberal journalist who dismissed the significance of reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
To its credit, Microsoft appears to have been receptive to the criticism, with a spokesperson telling the Examiner that the company is “working quickly to fix the issue” and affirming that “Xandr has stopped using GDI’s services while we are doing a larger review.”
U.S. lawmakers are also interested in exploring the matter in greater depth, particularly in regard to reports that the Department of State provided GDI with a $330,000 grant.
Two State Department‐backed entities, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Department’s own Global Engagement Center, have given upwards of $300,000 to Global Disinformation Index (GDI), which describes its mission as “Disrupting the business model of disinformation.” /2
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) February 13, 2023
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) reacted to the news by asserting that, if accurate, the situation warrants a “strict accounting of all U.S. taxpayer funds” that benefit the Global Engagement Center, through which the grant was reportedly approved.