‘The Feds are creating a database to track “hate speech” on Twitter. What could go wrong, comrades?’

August 29, 2014

Hat tip to Hot Air, America’s Watchtower, and Sense and Snarkability, whence the title.  The Washington Free Beacon reports:

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.

At least it’s only a project funded by a government grant, not an actual government agency.  On the other hand, as Ed Morrissey puts it, its name—“Truthy”—sounds like something “straight out of Orwell”.  (In 1984, the government has a “Ministry of Truth”, whose job is anything but.)

“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.

Nothing opens debate quite like calling the other side’s arguments “subversive propaganda” (as the left well knows).  There’s more:

“Truthy” claims to be non-partisan. However, the project’s lead investigator Filippo Menczer proclaims his support for numerous progressive advocacy groups, including President Barack Obama’s Organizing for Action, Moveon.org, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, and True Majority.

Menczer, a professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University, links to each of the organizations on his personal page from his bio at the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research.

The government-funded researchers hope that the public will use their tool in the future to report on other Twitter users.

It’s the best idea since—well, since the last time the Obama administration tried to get free citizens to inform on each other.  (“Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”—The White House Blog, August 4th, 2009)

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2 Responses to “‘The Feds are creating a database to track “hate speech” on Twitter. What could go wrong, comrades?’”

  1. gentlebenno Says:

    Seeing as how everybody’s already reading our e-mail, phone calls, dreams, and fears. We can just add this one to the list. It’s a long list now.

    Unfortunately, folks seems to expect this kind of thing today, and so they confront it with a shrug. Everybody just assumes it’s all going to be okay. By the time folks actually wake up, I think it’ll be too late.


    • It’s an interesting point. Not for the first time, it strikes me that there’s a fine line between what some conservatives see potentially coming in the near future (the Islamization of Europe, an Orwellian police state in America…), which people roll their eyes at and call “alarmist” and silly, and what’s already here, which people shrug at and almost say it’s silly to find it remarkable or to suggest there was a time when predicting it would have been called “alarmist”.


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