Disinformation Inc: Microsoft removes conservative sites from blacklist 'defunding' outlets

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This is part of a Washington Examiner investigative series about self-styled 'disinformation' tracking groups that are secretly blacklisting and trying to defund conservative media outlets. Here you can read other stories in this series.

Microsoft has removed negative flags for conservative media outlets that have blocked them from reaping key advertising dollars amid the corporation launching an internal review and suspending its subscription to a "disinformation" tracking group's blacklist used to "defund" disfavored speech, according to internal data obtained by the Washington Examiner.

The Microsoft-owned Xandr, a major advertising company, previously abided by a secret blacklist of conservative news compiled by the Global Disinformation Index, a British organization with two affiliated U.S. nonprofit groups. Now, as Microsoft appears to be taking steps to distance itself from GDI , the company has, for the time being, deleted flags such as "false/misleading" and "reprehensible/offensive" for right-leaning websites, data show.

"I just checked in Xandr's platform again and can confirm that all rejection flags have been removed from domains," a senior executive in the ad industry, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly, told the Washington Examiner.

Xandr had labeled 39 conservative domains as, overwhelmingly, "false/misleading," the Washington Examiner reported on Friday. Townhall, a website under a Christian publisher called Salem Media Group, was flagged as "reprehensible/offensive."

Some websites that were flagged prior as "false/misleading" were the Washington Examiner, the Daily Wire, RealClearPolitics, Drudge Report, Newsmax, Breitbart, the Blaze, the Washington Times, Judicial Watch, and MRC.TV, which is under the Media Research Center.

However, according to an updated internal Xandr dataset provided to the Washington Examiner, all of these websites do not currently have a designation. It is unclear whether this means they now are receiving ads from certain brands, given that domains allowed to obtain ads are provided an "approved" classification, data show.

"We try to take a principled approach to accuracy and fighting foreign propaganda," a Microsoft spokesperson said Saturday evening. "We’re working quickly to fix the issue, and Xandr has stopped using GDI’s services while we are doing a larger review."

Breitbart.TV, a defunct domain, still is designated as "hate speech."......