Americans’ telephone conversations already are being monitored by the National Security Agency and their health-care policies by the Internal Revenue Service. Now there’s “Truthy,” a government-funded project at Indiana University that will watch their Tweets for “political smears” and “social pollution.”
The goal is to track those comments.
The Washington Free Beacon reported this week that the government already has contributed nearly $1 million to the project that its organizers say is to “analyze and visualize the diffusion of information on Twitter.”
“The Truthy system evaluates thousands of tweets an hour to identify new and emerging bursts of activity around memes of various flavors. The data and statistics provided by Truthy are designed to aid in the study of social epidemics: How do memes propagate through the Twittersphere? What causes a burst of popularity?”
The program operators say: “We also plan to use Truthy to detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution. While the vast majority of memes arise in a perfectly organic manner, driven by the complex mechanisms of life on the Web, some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns. Truthy uses a sophisticated combination of text and data mining, social network analysis, and complex networks models. To train our algorithms, we leverage crowdsourcing: we rely on users like you to flag injections of forged grass-roots activity. Therefore, click on the Truthy button when you see a suspicious meme.”
John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute and author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” said it’s a step beyond what the U.S. Constitution allows.
“For the federal government to be tracking so-called hate speech or subversive propaganda is not only Orwellian but violates the very fundamental rights to free speech and privacy guaranteed to us by the Constitution,” he told WND. “Under such a program, the Founding Fathers would have been under surveillance and probably rounded up for opposing the British government.
“Moreover, encouraging fellow citizens to inform on each other is reminiscent of the treachery we witnessed under the Nazi regime where people were arrested for merely raising questions about government actions. This is clearly an illegitimate use of taxpayer monies.”
The National Science Foundation-funded program aims 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 records of the project.
The Free Beacon reported that while “Truthy” claims to be non-partisan, the project’s lead investigator, Filippo Menczer, supports numerous progressive advocacy groups, including President Obama’s Organizing for Action, Moveon.org, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International and True Majority.
Menczer teaches at the university and links to those groups from his biography at the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research, the report said.
The concept of “hate speech” has been used as a political weapon since before Obama became president. But it was his signature that made law the federal “hate crimes” act, which applies special penalties based on person’s beliefs and feelings.
WND reported “hate crimes” and “hate speech” were targeted by two Democratic lawmakers when the Justice Department submitted a report for action against any Internet sites, broadcast, cable television or radio shows determined to advocate or encourage “violent acts.”
Among the organizations that previously have been labeled as “haters” are the World Congress of Families, which promotes the “natural family,” the Drudge Report for covering “black crime” and Joseph Farah, WND founder and CEO, who long has been targeted by Southern Poverty Law Center which has described WND as “the conspiracist ‘news’ site.”
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., believe their Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014 “would create an updated comprehensive report examining the role of the Internet and other telecommunications in encouraging hate crimes based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and create recommendations to address such crimes,” stated a news release from Markey’s office.
The Alliance Defending Freedom has called such “hate-crimes” bills “another nail in the coffin of the First Amendment.”
“All violent crimes are hate crimes, and all crime victims deserve equal justice,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in a statement. “This law is a grave threat to the First Amendment because it provides special penalties based on what people think, feel or believe.”