While OTF seeks to develop tools and technologies that help specific communities under threat or are optimized for particular use cases such as journalists and human rights defenders, our funding remit is focused on the censorship of content or surveillance rather than the content itself. This distinction is particularly important when it comes to disinformation.
Further, OTF seeks to deduplicate out efforts from other sources of US Government support and the State Department’s Global Engagement Center is tasked with combating disinformation.
As a result, OTF generally does not fund projects that seek to combat disinformation unless the projects seek to counter by technical means disinformation efforts that constitute a form of censorship, regardless of the specifics of the content these efforts employ. Projects that seek to combat disinformation by evaluating the content of a disinformation campaign (e.g. fact-checking) rather than its technical orchestration or effect are generally considered out of remit.
The extent disinformation aligns with OTF’s remit depends on the tactics and focus of the disinformation effort. The criteria relied on by OTF to determine if a proposed project is within remit:
- Is a primary goal of the disinformation tactics employed by a government-aligned actor to attempt to censor critical speech?
- Is the effort focused on specific disinformation threats targeting at-risk communities in repressive environments or “countries that are strategic priorities for the U.S. Agency of Global Media”?
- Is the malicious actor preventing access to relevant information through means of disinformation thereby constituting censorship?
- Does the project seek to counter disinformation efforts that constitute a form of censorship by technical means?