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Corruption Chronicles

U.S. Pays to Combat AI-Generated Misinformation in Iraq Claiming Democracy is at Risk

It was only a matter of time before the Biden administration’s absurd—and costly—initiative to combat misinformation spilled over into artificial intelligence (AI) and the moment has arrived with a government-funded program to counter the fake crisis in Iraq of all places. American taxpayers will dole out tens of thousands of dollars to train social media influencers, journalists and journalism students in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) and Kirkuk governorate to spot misinformation in AI. According to the government’s grant announcement: “The rise of AI-generated disinformation poses significant concerns to the ability of the public and media to fairly and accurately report on current events, given the ability of bots to spread information, and deepfakes to make it extraordinarily difficult to tell truth from fiction–putting democracy itself at risk.”

The alarmist language has been repeatedly utilized by the administration to justify spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to battle a fictitious crisis created by the president and his advisors to control information. The movement started in the U.S. with a controversial Department of Homeland Security (DHS) panel known as the Disinformation Governance Board and has expanded worldwide with American-funded media disinformation networks that train foreign reporters and officials how to counter information considered by the administration to be unfavorable. Just a few weeks ago the U.S. dedicated half a million dollars to help journalists in Africa counter disinformation and youth spot truth in fake news. Earlier in the year the administration doled out $50,000 to counter disinformation in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan by training journalists with handpicked “U.S. subject matter experts” with a mandate of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA).

The latest allocation to combat AI-generated disinformation also includes a DEIA mandate that requires proposals from grant seekers to demonstrate how the program advances equity with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, income, geography, and/or disability, among other factors. “The proposal may also demonstrate how the program will further engagement in underserved communities and with individuals from underserved communities,” according to the grant announcement published this week. The goal is to train 15 social media influencers and 100 newly minted journalists how AI is used to produce and disseminate disinformation, how to recognize disinformation, and how to explain it in clear language to their audiences without scare tactics in a way that empowers audiences rather than demoralizes them. “Influencers should, as a result, create at least two pieces of unique content on disinformation for their audiences; journalists and journalism students should write and publish at least two stories on disinformation,” the grant document states.

It is hardly surprising that the administration’s pricey misinformation endeavor expanded to AI considering the broad reach of previously funded programs. Earlier this year the Department of Justice (DOJ), charged with upholding the rule of law, keeping the country safe and protecting civil rights, created a new category of censorship by doling out nearly $1 million to track the spread of “mis-, dis-, and mal-information (MDM)” by internet users. The money went to a public university in South Carolina that is supposed to map the spread of MDM in real time and create an online dashboard with a special MDM tracker. To justify the investment the Biden administration laughably asserts that the project is critical to avert “violent extremism,” and explains that “nationally publicized political events often become focal points of MDM, which are exploited by various individuals and groups to launch disinformation campaigns and trigger spontaneous or crowd-sourced diffusion of disinformation….”

Last summer a congressional probe exposed a scandalous government misinformation scheme in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) colluded with a compromised Ukrainian intelligence agency to censor the speech of Americans. The federal agency responsible for protecting the nation against terrorists, violent street gangs and serial killers joined forces with the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which is widely known to be infiltrated by Russian-aligned forces, to take down the authentic social media accounts of Americans. This includes a verified U.S. State Department profile and those belonging to American journalists.


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