The US Department of State has announced a new campaign to counter "propaganda and disinformation" from foreign nations as part of a partnership with the Department of Defense. The two parties have signed a memorandum of agreement "to transfer $40 million from the Department of Defense to the Department of State’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) in fiscal year 2018 for initiatives to counter propaganda and disinformation from foreign nations," the Department of State said on Monday.
To implement those plans, the US State Department is ready to cooperate with foreign private businesses and nongovernmental organizations, including those from Russia, Steve Goldstein, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, said in an interview with TASS. Asked whether foreign nongovernmental organizations, including the ones from Russia, are eligible to receive grants under a new State-Defense partnership to counter "propaganda and disinformation" and whether the State Department plans to actively cooperate with foreign private sector partners, academia and social networks in this regard, he said: "We would be happy to accept submissions from any group that shares our commitment to fighting disinformation."
"It will be a broad based campaign using lots of new and innovative ways designed to fight disinformation in many countries," Goldstein added.
One of the initiatives announced by the Department of State is the creation of an Information Access Fund "to support public and private partners working to expose and counter propaganda and disinformation from foreign nations." "Under the Information Access Fund, civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, and academic institutions will be eligible to compete for grants from the GEC to advance their important work to counter propaganda and disinformation," the State Department said.
According to Goldstein, the transfer of funds announced on Monday reiterates the United States’ commitment to the fight.
The Department of State plans to award an initial $5 mln in grants from the Information Access Fund. In consultation with Congress, this funding will include $1 mln in initial seed money from the Department of State’s public diplomacy account in order to kick-start the initiative quickly. The Fund will also drive the use of innovative messaging and data science techniques.