‘The Feds are creating a database to track “hate speech” on Twitter. What could go wrong, comrades?’
August 29, 2014
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 email@example.com.”—The White House Blog, August 4th, 2009)