Gabe Kaminsky on August 9, 2022
The Biden administration will spend thousands in tax dollars to educate youth in Cambodia on how to “stop the spread of misinformation” on the internet, according to a federal grant listing reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, will hand one U.S. or Cambodian group up to $20,000 “to develop, organize, and oversee” the training program, with the possibility of more awards, according to the listing. The group would teach youth in rural areas with Facebook access as well as those 18 to 35 who are educated in urban areas through misinformation “workshops” for a period of three to six months.
“Unethical news sites, paid bloggers, and sophisticated videos masquerading as legitimate news have found fertile ground on Facebook in Cambodia,” the listing says. “The project will help young Cambodians to ‘Stop, Reflect, and Verify’ before sharing information online.”
Republican South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman, who sits on the Oversight and Reform Committee, the House’s main investigative body, told the DCNF the grant is “outrageous” and “another example of why we need a transparent, top-down review of every program managed by our federal agencies.”
“Our nation is $30 trillion in debt,” said Norman. “Look at the actual text in this grant, and explain to me why U.S. taxpayers are now responsible for funding programs to teach people in Cambodia (of all places) how to vet information they see on Facebook?”
Cambodia, which has a population of more than 17 million, is located in southeast Asia. The country operates under a constitutional monarchy and has received $3 billion from the U.S. government in foreign aid over the last 30 years, according to the State Department.
The State Department’s program aims to “increase respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” according to the listing. The entity handed the funds would conduct in-person workshops at universities, translate English materials to Khmer and “amplify” the program on social media.
Countering “misinformation” has remained a priority of the state department, which the DCNF reported is also spending up to $100,000 flying in Africans to teach them how to fight it. The Cambodian grant derives from fiscal year 2022 Public Diplomacy Funding.
“We have a huge challenge, particularly in the information space, the misinformation space, the disinformation space,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in January. “We’ve got to relentlessly and effectively tell our own story. The United States will continue to speak the truth in solidarity with one voice.”
The State Department declined the DCNF’s request for comment.
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