by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The for-profit censorship giant NewsGuard is now selling its “Misinformation Fingerprints” technology to private companies to silence Americans’ speech — technology the federal government helped NewsGuard develop to the tune of nearly $750,000 in taxpayer funding. So while NewsGuard is now making headlines for trying to take down Elon Musk’s X, the bigger story concerns the federal government’s funding of the censorship-industrial complex.
NewsGuard launched a Thanksgiving-week attack on the social media company former known as Twitter, claiming some 200 ads from prominent advertisers appeared on feeds of users spreading lies about the Israel-Hamas war. Elon Musk returned fire, calling NewsGuard “a propaganda shop” that “uses these reports to pressure companies to buy their ‘fact-checking’ services.”
“It’s a profit over any principle model,” the X owner countered.
The verbal sparring between Musk and NewsGuard is likely to continue for some time, but the war on free speech being waged by NewsGuard extends much beyond X and is being subsidized by our tax dollars.
“In September 2021, NewsGuard was awarded a grant through the Small Business Innovation and Research program, which funds early-stage companies to develop products and technologies that can be helpful for government,” NewsGuard announced in its 2021 Social Impact Report. “Under the grant,” the report explained, “NewsGuard plans to further develop the Misinformation Fingerprints tool and test the effectiveness of the Fingerprints in detecting state-sponsored disinformation campaigns.”
Federal records show the Department of Defense funded the Small Business Innovation and Research program’s award of nearly $750,000 to NewsGuard for the further development and testing of the Misinformation Fingerprints tool. And according to NewsGuard’s 2021 Social Impact Report, its “Misinformation Fingerprints” catalog traced “762 false narratives,” “providing one-of-a-kind tracking seeds for the AI tools used by defense industry clients.”