Billionaires Soros and Hoffman backing new effort to battle disinformation

Billionaires Soros and Hoffman backing new effort to battle disinformation
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Billionaires George Soros and Reid Hoffman are backing a new media effort to combat misinformation.

The effort, Good Information Inc., is intended to be a “a public benefit corporation committed to restoring social trust and strengthening democracy” by increasing the flow of accurate information, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

News of the effort was first reported by Axios.

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The effort is launching with a multi-million seed effort led by Hoffman, who founded LinkedIn, along with Soros and investors Ken and Jen Duda, and Incite Ventures.

Misinformation has become of increasing concern recently, particularly due to false claims spread around the coronavirus pandemic.

Good Information noted that its efforts come as local news outlets across the nation close, and as mainstream, national news outlets prioritize subscription-based services, leaving a gap in reliable news for many communities.

The company plans on prioritizing investing in media companies that serve communities with few choices for finding trustworthy information.

As its first investment, Good Information acquired Courier Newsroom, which has a network of eight local news outlets in Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan, Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. 

Pat Kreitlow, who co-founded Courier’s Wisconsin news outlet UpNorthNews, said in a statement that the company is “extremely happy to be the first investment of Good Information’s portfolio.”

“We are seeing unparalleled threats to our country’s democracy and a free press today—threats so grave that the long-running fight against misinformation seems almost quaint as we confront outright disinformation from people preying upon Americans fears and anxieties to push their own agenda or profit margins,” Kreitlow said.

The effort is the latest example of billionaires investing in combatting misinformation.

CraigsList founder Craig Newmark has invested into factual reporting through his nonprofit, Axios noted. And former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has also founded a nonprofit aimed at making data accessible.