Why does the government suddenly care about your Twitter activity?
A federal grant from the National Science Foundation’s Computer Science directorate is pumping a lot of money into analyzing your Twitter habits. So far nearly $1 million dollars has been spent on Truthy, a project developed by researchers at Indiana University that would use taxpayer funds to monitor speech on Twitter and evaluate users’ “partisanship” and to track “subversive propaganda.”
The intended goal of the project is to “mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate,” according to Truthy. What they don’t seem to realize is that the government funding a program to “mitigate” what it sees as “the diffusion of misleading ideas” is directly contrary to open debate and a free society.
Most Americans would agree that the federal government should not encroach on free speech or play any role in determining what classifies as “social pollution” and “political smears,”—other subjects Truthy wishes to monitor. That is why the House Committee on Science will be conducting oversight in the coming months on this and other questionable government-funded research projects.
Government funding of this project is not only a waste during a time of budgetary constraints, it is also a danger to free society better suited for a George Orwell book than a country founded on the idea of liberty.