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State Department Strengthens Offensive Against Propaganda and Disinformation

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 17 alleged Russian agents for creating fake online profiles and trying to meddle in the 2016 elections was an acknowledgment of the threat state-sponsored disinformation poses to the United States. Now, the Trump administration is fighting back.

On Feb. 26, the State Department announced it signed a deal with the Pentagon to transfer $40 million from defense spending to be used to enhance the Global Engagement Center, which identifies and counters propaganda and disinformation.

The Global Engagement Center was established by former President Barack Obama shortly before he left office, and was originally introduced under the bipartisan Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016.

According to a press release, the additional funding will be used in fiscal year 2018 for “initiatives to counter propaganda and disinformation from foreign nations.”

Among these initiatives is the creation of new grants, under a public-private Information Access Fund for groups to counter propaganda and disinformation. It will be available to civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, and academic institutions.