Leftist Big Tech consulting organization Data & Society has added two flamboyant leftists, including pro-censorship former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao, to its Board of Directors.
The move will likely endanger American free speech rights, given Pao’s support for censorship and the shamelessness with which Pao has attacked those she disagrees with, as well as Data & Society’s partnerships with militant leftist groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which arbitrarily changed its definition of racism last week.
She praised censorship in an attempt to tie conservatives to “hate” in June, tweeting that “deplatforming hate works.” Pao also reportedly called on Silicon Valley firms to smack down men who couldn’t find sexual partners – or “incels” – in 2018; she urged banning former President Donald Trump’s Twitter and Reddit as early as 2019; and, callously referred to American COVID-19 fatalities as a “measure” of Trump’s “failures” in April 2020.
The addition of Pao coincides with glaring omissions in how media reports on Data & Society’s well-established financial ties with liberal philanthropy foundations.
A Nexis search finds that zero out of 38 total New York Times citations of Data & Society since the firm’s 2014 founding mention its liberal ties.
Liberal media outlets will likely report even more deceptively about Data & Society after the firm’s addition of both Pao and Raina Kumra, a former executive of the Omidyar Network, a venture of eBay founder and leftist billionaire Pierre Omidyar.
Major media outfits regularly cite Data & Society’s research to shape national narratives about Big Tech, while neglecting to mention the nonprofit’s ideological and financial links to leftist interests.
New York Times technology writer Kevin Roose merely called it “the nonprofit Data & Society” in a November 2020 piece swooning over the firm’s efforts to tar conservatives as QAnon believers.
A March 2020 Times piece by media columnist Ben Smith provided no description of the organization, but quoted Data & Society founder Danah Boyd touting the immediate success of Facebook’s and YouTube’s “policies and algorithmic tools to mute toxic speech” pertaining to COVID-19.
And notably, CNN Business reporter Rachel Metz referred to the company in an October article simply as a “nonprofit” that “studies social implications of technologies.”
All of that coverage ignored substantial grants from people including notorious liberal mega-billionaire George Soros, whose Open Society Foundations has given $1,525,000 to Data & Society since 2017, according to Foundation Directory Online, a directory of philanthropic donations.
Data & Society has several other leftist financial ties.
The organization has received a total of $10,091,949 from leftist foundations since 2017, about 63 percent of the $16,097,340 in overall grant funding that the company received in roughly the past five years.
The Omidyar Network also funds faux-conservative site The Bulwark, a site “founded in 2018 in opposition to Trumpism,” according to Axios, whose founder Charlie Sykes recently called concerned K-12 parents “snowflakes,” and whose publisher Sarah Longwell openly supported the impeachment of former President Donald Trump and donated to President Joe Biden.
Craigslist founder Craig Newmark said he donated to Data & Society and similar leftist media organizations, because “in our country right now, we are facing a crisis in getting trustworthy news out there to overwhelm the misinformation,” The New York Times quoted him as saying in June 2018.
Data & Society is helping to fulfill Newmark’s objective to saturate the news landscape with liberal dogma.
For instance, Data & Society unabashedly says on its website that its main goals include analyzing Big Tech from a social-justice perspective and examining tech companies’ impact on so-called “online disinformation.”
The media’s lack of recognition about Data & Society’s leftist bias and funding streams is important because powerbrokers and interest groups use the company’s advice in crafting content moderation policies.
A February 2021 ADL study painting right-wingers as extremists drew inspiration from a Data & Society hack-job report titled: “Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube.”
Data & Society premised its analysis on the notion that independent, popular influencers on YouTube compose an “Alternative Influence Network (AIN),” and represent a dangerous “reactionary” threat to society.
The study frames “a general opposition to feminism, social justice, or left-wing politics” apparently shared by the influencers as an accelerant for radicalization. The study includes renowned psychologist Jordan Peterson, conservative pundit Candace Owens, and disaffected liberal journalist Tim Pool, as members of the AIN.
A May 2018 Data & Society study equated “redpill[ing]” with “hateful ideas,” noting that Charleston, S.C., church shooter Dylann Roof went to conservative websites pointing out black-on-white murders before opening fire and killing nine African American church-goers and injuring one more, in June 2015.
That Data & Society report says that information Roof accessed about the Trayvon Martin case was a direct cause of the shooting, and that independent content oncould propel future violence.
“A rising trend in online misinformation is to encourage users to search for a topic for which the motivated manipulator knows that only one point of view will be represented,” the report says. “An example of this is where terms are strategically placed on websites to serve as a ‘redpill’ in order to encourage curious web surfers to be exposed to hateful ideas.”
Conservatives are under attack. Contact Data & Society Research Institute at (646) 832-2038, and demand that it stop taking money from leftist philanthropists. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.