Super: Federal grant funds plan to detect “misinformation,” “hate speech” on social media
posted at 10:01 pm on August 25, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham
The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.
The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.
The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.”
The university has received $919,917 so far for the project.
“The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly,” the grant states. “Our data will be made available via [application programming interfaces] APIs and include information on meme propagation networks, statistical data, and relevant user and content features.”
“The open-source platform we develop will be made publicly available and will be extensible to ever more research areas as a greater preponderance of human activities are replicated online,” it continues. “Additionally, we will create a web service open to the public for monitoring trends, bursts, and suspicious memes.”
“This service could mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate,” the grant said.
“Truthy,” which gets its name from Stephen Colbert, will catalog how information is spread on Twitter, including political campaigns.
I’m all in favor of data projects that give us a better understanding of how information spreads online, but I’d rather it not be publicly funded and therefore funneled through the very entity that might have a grand, political stake in, and the ability to prosecute or persecute, what amounts to “hate speech” or “misinformation.”
The best we can hope for, I’d imagine, is a bunch of slobbering media coverage of the suspiciously partisan conclusions of this study— “Right wingers create all misinformation, study shows.” We can pray for no legislation or legal action against those who violate the study’s conclusions.
We’ve been down this road before, only more blatantly directed straight from the White House, on Obamacare. Report your fishy neighbors!
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