- The Disinformation Project is a group of “experts” who attack political opposition as foreign disinformation or extremist.
- They’ve been proven wrong many times, but media continues to pass on their findings without criticism or balance.
- Media calls them victims when people are angry about their slander.
Experts by what definition?
The Disinformation Project (TDP) was set up in February 2020 for the purpose of combating what the World Health Organisation called the “infodemic” of misinformation around the COVID pandemic. At the same time the Government began its unprecedented removal of rights in its pandemic response. Until 2023 TDP was funded by the Government – more on this next week.
It is a group of “disinformation researchers” – who have no academic background in the field of disinformation. Understandable, because said field is brand new, having had only a few mentions in academic papers globally before 2018. TDP seems to use the label to refer to criticism of Government narratives.
One example is theories on the origins of COVID-19. In the first months of 2020, left-leaning US media called the speculation that Covid was likely a Wuhan lab leak a conspiracy theory. By April the same media organisations said it was likely true. In September 2020, the Disinformation Project’s assessment was that “these specific conspiracy theories were deemed credible for a time but were subsequently shown to be unjustified upon investigation.”
It’s one thing to say something is false, quite another to say what was considered to be credible just months earlier is now a conspiracy theory. In 2021 NZ Herald published articles calling scientific evidence of the theory “overwhelming”. Now even one of TDP’s greatest champions, Stuff, quotes another US Senate report saying the lab leak theory is true “more likely than not”.
Why do media continue to treat TDP as credible experts on a diverse range of subjects?
Opposition to propaganda is propaganda
TDP acted similarly in many aspects of the pandemic, labelling evidence against the Government’s COVID response as disinformation or misinformation, despite major aspects of that response being officially judged as unreasonable less than a year later, or evidence showing the Government position was contrary to official advice.
It’s particularly ironic when PM Ardern herself called Government COVID communications “sustained propaganda”.
What TDP calls research is infiltrating social media groups looking for “scary” content they can label extremist. For a taste of what they find concerning, here’s a clip of Director Kate Hannah in their documentary “Web of Chaos”.
The day after the documentary aired, Newsroom published a piece painting Hannah as a victim, saying she cancelled her speaking appearances for the week from fear of public reaction. It says she received a death threat by email – but doesn’t mention police involvement.
Some of these groups exist because their creators were kicked off Big Tech social media – and the banned are suspicious TDP had a hand in it. TDP “researchers” seem to follow them using false names. We’re supposed to believe TDP are the victims when they find angry conversations about how TDP was slandering them.
More on this from NZNE
- (7 May 2023) The “scientific” part of The Disinformation Project
- (14 May 2023) Helping to control the narrative on COVID: Te Pūnaha Matatini