U.S. launches $40M effort to fight Russian election meddling

Russia's U.S. Embassy is shown in Washington, D.C. Monday, the State Department announced a partnership with the Pentagon to fight against foreign-based propaganda and disinformation that target U.S. interests. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

Feb. 26 (UPI) — The U.S. State Department on Monday announced a partnership with the Pentagon that will spend $40 million to combat propaganda and meddling from foreign governments.

Officials said the program will operate out of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, and is starting with a $1 million that seeks proposals from groups and agencies across the country.

The fund — just part of $40 million for the project that will be transferred from the Defense Department — will eventually grow to $5 million, the department said.

With the Information Access Fund, civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, research and development centers, private companies and academic institutions will compete for funding to fight misinformation.

Officials said the fund will play a key role in the project’s partnerships — and will drive the use of innovative messaging and data science techniques.

“This funding is critical to ensuring that we continue an aggressive response to malign influence and disinformation and that we can leverage deeper partnerships with our allies, Silicon Valley, and other partners in this fight,” Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steve Goldstein said.

“It is not merely a defensive posture that we should take, we also need to be on the offensive.”

The partnership will also initiate pilot programs with the Pentagon designed to counter propaganda.

Efforts to guard against propaganda were ordered by Congress last summeras a response to Russia’s purported interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.


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