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David Cameron: Government will no longer fund Global Disinformation Index

Lord Cameron speaks at the National Cyber Security centre in London today. Credit: Getty

May 9, 2024 - 4:30pm

British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has confirmed the UK Government will no longer provide funding to the Global Disinformation Index, according to a ministerial letter seen by UnHerd. He was responding to a letter sent last month by Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch, who highlighted concerns about the GDI blurring the line between free speech and disinformation which were raised following an UnHerd investigation last month.

In the response, Cameron confirmed that “the FCDO has not funded GDI since 2023, and there are no current plans to do so.” He then underlined that section by hand, and added, hand-written, “thanks for pointing this out.”

The letter in question, with the Foreign Secretary’s handwriting.

He added that while countering disinformation from adversaries was important, “protecting free speech is a priority for the department”, going on to say that organisations supported by the Government should “uphold our values”.

The letter maintains that the Foreign Office is committed to opposing disinformation, specifically from Russia, and would continue working with technology and media organisations, but would not be providing funding to the GDI to do so.

In April, UnHerd published an investigation showing that the GDI published a “dynamic exclusion list” which associated holding gender-critical views with disinformation. UnHerd was placed on this list for publishing work from columnists Kathleen Stock and Julie Bindel, who were both accused of articles which discriminated against transgender people.

 

While the Government has not provided funding to the GDI since 2023, it is understood that the company has held meetings with Foreign Office officials about resuming funding.

However, it was reported that Badenoch was among a group of around 10 Tory MPs who had raised concerns about any prospect of future financial support provided to the GDI after the UnHerd investigation, leading to calls to sever funding.

The GDI is listed as a non-profit organisation whose self-described aim is to combat disinformation and remain neutral. However, as revealed by the site, the majority of those listed on the “dynamic exclusion list” are media outlets on the Right, while those rated the most trustworthy are on the Left.

Funders listed on the website include the European Union, the German Foreign Office and the Open Society Foundation, a charitable network primarily funded by George Soros.


is UnHerd’s Editorial Trainee.

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Tony Kilmister
Tony Kilmister
17 days ago

Outfits claiming to be challenging disinformation are the media equivalent of authoritarian political regimes that like to include the word democratic in the national name. They are driven by totalitarian ideals.

Leon O'Donoghue Burke
Leon O'Donoghue Burke
17 days ago
Reply to  Tony Kilmister

Usually fact checking and anti-disinformation sites are quite good at producing evidence or arguing their reasoning. For example GDI didn’t just say right wing sources were prone to disinformation, they produced a whole report on the matter. Do you disagree with this? And why do you say they are driven by ‘totalitarian ideals’?

Andrew R
Andrew R
17 days ago

Have you watched the Freddie Sayers video on the matter. If you are stifling opinion for a preferred left wing narrative, then at best I would say it’s authoritarian. Why does Clare Melford get to decide what are acceptable and unacceptable opinions, as she is clearly biased.

Jonathan Miller
Jonathan Miller
17 days ago

The issue is that the report was partisan. We have seen over the last few years that ‘left wing’ sites have been promulgating mis- and dis-information put out by governments. These didn’t feature in the report, and don’t affect the ‘trust’ ratings GDI produce and which decide which news sources get promoted to the public.
We are now seeing prominent people in the media and government claiming that they never actually promoted the false information they were parroting, preferring to blame ‘scientists’ for not being clear. This in itself is dis- or mis-information. GDI won’t report on, or adjust their trust ratings based on this row-back.
Unherd, among others, have done great work exposing the duplicity of GDI, the very shady funding sources, and the (financial and other) support from our governments.
We should have no tolerance for public funding for disingenuous, partisan outfits such as GDI.

Andrew R
Andrew R
17 days ago

Government and billionaire funded NGOs are a cancer on democracy.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
17 days ago

The claim that Trump actively conspired with Russia to affect the 2016 election was relentlessly promoted by all the regular media outlets as true yet it was false. There has been no consequences. Those outlets still claim to be objective.

The Hunter Biden laptop was deemed to be ‘Russian disinformation’ and promoted as such by all the regular media outlets. This was false. There have been no consequences. Those outlets still claim to be objective.

There are many more examples. I don’t care if they’re lying biased and partial, I expect that, it’s the smug middle-class privileged high seats of learning hypocrisy I can’t stand.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
17 days ago

lol. The GDI lists NPR as the most trustworthy news site – you know the news org whose CEO is in the news now for calling the first amendment an impediment. Second on its list is Associated Press, the news org that gladly accepted an $8 million donation from a climate activist NGO to further report on climate.

Paul T
Paul T
16 days ago

Work for them do you?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
16 days ago
Reply to  Tony Kilmister

If Cameron was genuinely against dis-information he should have resigned during the Brexit referendum. This is probably just a further attempt to repair his tattered reputation.

john d rockemella
john d rockemella
17 days ago

First good thing i have heard for a while! What about getting britain back on track on all the other issues. Mainstream news is dead anyway, i hear more important facts from russell brand!

J Bryant
J Bryant
17 days ago

It’s great to see any victory for free speech. I do worry, however, that when Labour comes to power later this year (as seems very likely) they will continue to fund the GDI.

Graham Bennett
Graham Bennett
17 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I spoke to my local Labour MP the other day about this – he claims they’re very aware of the GDI and won’t fund them.

R Wright
R Wright
16 days ago
Reply to  Graham Bennett

Did you get a promise in writing? Politicians are duplicitous.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
17 days ago

This really is par for the course. The great tyrants of history always claim to be champions of truth and righteousness, and are willing to do what it takes to enforce truth and righteousness, up to and including subterfuge, dishonesty, public shaming, censorship, and ultimately base violence. They always point their fingers at subversives, rebels, and foreign enemies lurking behind every effort to undermine the tyrant approved and government distributed truth. This is absolutely, unequivocally NOTHING NEW. It’s the same ends justify the means logic that has dogged humanity through the centuries and led to such lovely things as witch trials, inquisitions, purges, pogroms, secret police, the Holocaust, and I could go on. There are always prospective tyrants who believe the ends justify the means and are ready to impose truth as they see it and eliminate dissent. It’s a shame we’ve reached a point where so many people are gullible enough not to recognize these efforts to combat disinformation as the thin end of the wedge of totalitarianism. It’s an even greater shame there are so many others whose fear leads them to accept the promises of tyrants and bend the knee knowing full well what they’re doing.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
17 days ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Not a word out of place.

Graham Bennett
Graham Bennett
17 days ago

Good job Unherd! Excellent piece of investigative journalism, the likes of which we can never now expect the BBC to do. I hope you win an award for it.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
17 days ago
Reply to  Graham Bennett

This is an important point. If Unherd, as appears to be the case, have provided this contribution to the democratic process of maintaining free speech then it’s a significant victory for its model over mainstream media.

Leon O'Donoghue Burke
Leon O'Donoghue Burke
17 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

How so? According to the article the government hasn’t funded them since 2023, so what have UnHerd actually achieved?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
17 days ago

Stopped the potential 2024 contribution?

Paul T
Paul T
16 days ago

You realise 2023 ended only 4 months and 10 days ago?

Leon O'Donoghue Burke
Leon O'Donoghue Burke
17 days ago
Reply to  Graham Bennett

Investigative journalism? They read a page on a website and then sent an email to David Cameron. Why would they get an award for that?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
17 days ago

Yes, hardly My Lai but useful nevertheless.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
16 days ago

Suggest you read the original investigation by Freddie Sayers before commenting.

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
17 days ago

Good work. I would revert to annual subscription but don’t know how

J Bryant
J Bryant
17 days ago
Reply to  Peter Mott

There’s a “Contact Us” link at the bottom of the page. I bet they’d be happy to help you convert to annual subscription.

Tom D.
Tom D.
17 days ago

Well done!

c fyfe
c fyfe
17 days ago

I think the words Freddie et al might be thinking are ‘back o’ the net’!! Well done UnHerd!! Real journalism in real time..

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
17 days ago

Excellent Work UnHerd… Please continue (and come and help clean out the US of such scourges)…

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
17 days ago

You could hardly make it up! So, up to 2023, a Conservative government was funding a radical guardian propaganda outfit.

Leon O'Donoghue Burke
Leon O'Donoghue Burke
17 days ago
Reply to  Rachel Taylor

Why do you call them a “radical guardian propaganda outfit”?

Jonathan Miller
Jonathan Miller
17 days ago

Perhaps because they are a radical outfit that promotes the kind of unthinking propaganda that is often published by the Guardian?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
17 days ago

Look at its list of most trustworthy and least trustworthy news sites. It’s very easy to find. You will find a pattern. Reason Magazine and the New York Post are the least rusted. NPR and the AP are most trusted.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
17 days ago

While this is good news, there’s the small matter of the entire network of such bodies that take money from the UK Government and then set about the business of undermining and sabotaging any govt. policies with which they disagree, no matter what the cost to the wider population. Cameron promised a ‘bonfire of the quangos’ during his first term, but the net loss was minimal. Suppose he can chalk one more up in his favour, even if UnHerd did the heavy lifting.

Paul T
Paul T
16 days ago

Nothing here yet about the UN dismissing Stonewall’s challenge on the EHRC. Ah but its the weekend and Unherd shuts down…

S M
S M
16 days ago

Well done, UnHerd!

R Wright
R Wright
16 days ago

It still blows my mind how idiotic this government has been in funding its own enemies on the left for years. The first thing the left will do upon taking power later this year will be cutting off funding for centre right think tanks and NGOs. For 14 years the Tories have paid hundreds of millions if not billions out to organisations that oppose them. Sheer madness.