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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    House Committee Demands Answers on Truthy Project

    House Committee Demands Answers on Truthy Project

    Taxpayer-funded initiative collected 600,000 political tweets in its ‘database,’ bragged about having conservative Twitter accounts suspended

    Filippo Menczer / Indiana University


    BY: Elizabeth Harrington
    November 10, 2014 5:00 pm

    The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee sent a letter to the head of the National Science Foundation (NSF) on Monday, demanding answers about the origins of the nearly $1 million taxpayer-funded project to track “misinformation” on Twitter.

    The Truthy project, being conducted by researchers at Indiana University, is under investigation for targeting political commentary on Twitter. The project monitors “suspicious memes,” “false and misleading ideas,” and “hate speech,” with a goal of one day being able to automatically detect false rumors on the social media platform.

    The web service has been used to track tweets using hashtags such as #tcot (Top Conservatives on Twitter), and was successful in getting accounts associated with conservatives suspended, according to a 2012 book co-authored by the project’s lead researcher, Filippo Menczer, a professor of Informatics and Computer Science at Indiana University.

    Menczer has also said that Truthy monitored tweets using #p2 (Progressive 2.0), but did not discuss any examples of getting liberal accounts suspended in his book.

    “The Committee and taxpayers deserve to know how NSF decided to award a large grant for a project that proposed to develop standards for online political speech and to apply those standards through development of a website that targeted conservative political comments,” wrote Chairman Lamar Smith (R., Texas) in a letter to NSF Director France Cordova.

    “While some have argued that Truthy could be used to better understand things like disaster communication or to assist law enforcement, instead it appears Truthy focused on examples of ‘false and misleading ideas, hate speech, and subversive propaganda’ communicated by conservative groups,” he said.

    Smith is asking for the original application for the study, and “every internal and external e-mail, letter, memorandum, record, note, text message or other document” sent or received by the NSF about Truthy since the study began in 2011.
    Smith’s letter references a publication co-written by Menczer which explains how the project was used to track tweets before the 2010-midterm elections.

    In “Abuse of Social Media and Political Manipulation,” a chapter for the book The Death of the Internet, released in 2012, Menczer writes how his team successfully had Twitter accounts suspended.

    “With the exploding popularity of online social networks and microblogging platforms, social media have become the turf on which battles of opinion are fought,” the chapter begins. “This section discusses a particularly insidious type of abuse of social media, aimed at manipulation of political discourse online.”

    Truthy tracked up to 8 million tweets per day in the run up to the 2010 midterms, and stored 600,000 political tweets in their database, contrary to Menczer’s claim that Truthy does not “have a database.” This section of the Truthy website was recently deleted, following an editorial by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai warning the project could be misused.

    “The streams provided our system with up to 8 million tweets per day during the course of the study,” the paper said. “These were scanned in real time by our system. In total, our analysis considered over 305 million tweets collected from September 14 until October 27, 2010.”

    “Of these, 1.2 million contained one or more of our political keywords; detection of interesting memes further reduced this set to 600,000 tweets actually entered in our database for analysis,” the paper added.

    “We don’t have a database,” Menczer said when attacking the Washington Free Beacon’s initial storyon Truthy.

    The database was used to identify “several Truthy memes, resulting in many of the accounts involved being suspended by Twitter,” the chapter said.

    Truthy was able to suspend the account of C. Steven Tucker, a health insurance broker, who often used the hashtag “American Patriots,” or #ampat, from his two Twitter accounts.

    “This activity generated traffic around this hashtag and gave the impression that more people were tweeting about it,” the chapter said. “These two accounts had generated a total of over 41,000 tweets.”

    Another account, @PeaceKaren_25, was suspended after tweeting in support of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) over 10,000 times in four months. “A separate colluding account @HopeMarie_25 retweeted all the tweets generated by @PeaceKaren_25 supporting the same candidates and boosting the same websites,” the paper said.

    Smith said it is troubling that the project was able to delete and suspend Twitter accounts.

    “Whether by amazing coincidence or on purpose, it appears that several social media accounts highlighted by Truthy were subsequently terminated by the owners of the social media platforms, effectively muzzling the political free speech of the targeted individuals and groups,” he said. “In presenting and publishing the findings of their work, the Truthy research team proudly described how the web service targeted conservative social media messages. Their presentations featured examples of what they found to be online political speech ‘abuses’ by supporters of these groups.”

    A spokesman for Indiana University said that they are “aware of the letter but have no comment.”

    http://freebeacon.com/issues/house-committee-demands-answers-on-truthy-project-2/


  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Feds Creating Database to Track ‘Hate Speech’ on Twitter

    $1 Million study focuses on internet memes, ‘misinformation’ in political campaigns

    BY: Elizabeth Harrington
    August 25, 2014 3:30 pm

    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.

    “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,” according to the website.
    “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.
    “Truthy uses a sophisticated combination of text and data mining, social network analysis, and complex networks models,” the website adds. “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!”

    The project also seeks to discover why certain Internet memes go viral and others do not. Funding is not expected to expire until June 30, 2015.

    http://freebeacon.com/issues/feds-cr...ch-on-twitter/



  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Big Truthy is watching (some of) you…and me

    By Michelle Malkin • November 12, 2014 12:53 AM


    Big Truthy is watching (some of) you

    by Michelle Malkin
    Creators Syndicate
    Copyright 2014

    This week, President Obama launched a prominent social media campaign on behalf of “net neutrality” and urged the FCC to “keep the Internet free and open.”

    The man has gall.

    This is the same speech-squelcher in chief whose administration snooped on reporters; vengefully audited tea party members, pro-life activists and conservative election watchdogs and slow-walked the probe into the IRS witch hunt against them; entertained a government scheme to monitor story selection in TV newsrooms; and forked over $1 million to a researcher building a Twitter-snooping database.

    On Monday, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, requested that the National Science Foundation send him all information about how and why the taxpayer-subsidized “Truthy” data-mining project came into existence. Its lead researcher is Filippo Menczer — professor of informatics and computer science and the director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing — who is now on sabbatical at Yahoo! Labs.

    Menczer and Indiana University vehemently deny that Truthy is a “political watchdog,” a “government probe of social media,” “an attempt to suppress free speech or limit political speech or develop standards for online political speech,” “a way to define “misinformation,” a partisan political effort, “a system targeting political messages and commentary connected to conservative groups,” “a mechanism to terminate any social media accounts,” or “a database tracking hate speech.”

    But Menczer himself admits the project arose after he learned about a conservative Twitter bomb campaign against failed Senate Democratic candidate Martha Coakley in 2010. His information-gathering system bears liberal comedian Stephen Colbert’s neologism “truthy.” And the Washington Free Beacon’s Elizabeth Harrington reports that Menczer “proclaims his support fornumerous progressive advocacy groups, including President Barack Obama’s Organizing for Action, Moveon.org, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International and True Majority.”

    In presentations to academic groups, Menczer has specifically highlighted his team’s research on conservative groups, individuals and hashtags. I’ve seen it.



    Oh, look…there’s me! And Rush. And Mark Levin. And Newsbusters. And many more:



    At Harvard University’s “Truthiness Conference” in March 2012, for example, he showed his audience the results of monitoring and mapping the hashtag “#obamacare” and singled out the D.C.-based Heritage Foundation for using it. His government-funded database mined information on who was retweeting #obamacare-labeled tweets and pinpointed “patterns of propagation.”

    <font color="#3B3B3B"><span style="font-family: Georgia">
    Look closely and you’ll see my co-blogger Doug Powers (@thepowersthatbe)…to the right of Ted Cruz:



    Menczer and company also policed Twitter users who opined that Obama supported policies that promote Sharia law. Truthy targeted pro-Sarah Palin tweets and tweets using the hashtag “#tcot” — which stands for “Top Conservatives on Twitter” and which I’ve used since 2009.

    There’s me again! And Townhall. And The Blaze. And Drudge. And Breitbart. And Greg Gutfeld. And American Thinker. And Daily Caller. And many more:



    The government-funded researchers also went after opponents of Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, as well as a “Republican activist in Pennsylvania” whose Twitter account was then shut down after Truthy identified tweets that included web links to John Boehner’s official congressional leadership page.

    The goal, Menczer explained, is to “detect” Twitter users’ themes and memes “early before damage is done — that is what we’re trying to do.”Truthy will “automatically detect language,” and its overseers will conduct “sentiment analysis” to control and prevent “damage.”

    Nope, no political goals or ideological agenda there. Nothing to see here. Run along.

    Menczer defends against leftwing bias by claiming that “almost all of the most popular hashtags, the most active accounts, and the most tweeted URLs, are from the right. We looked really hard for any ‘truthy’ memes from the left.”

    Look harder, pal.

    As conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh and his staff discovered (no tax grant money necessary), the astroturfed social media boycott campaign against his show for the past several years has been spearheaded by only 10 Twitter users who account for almost 70 percent of all “StopRush” tweets to advertisers, amplified by illicit software. Moreover, they found, “almost every communication from a StopRush activist originates from outside the state of the advertiser.” These lib bots constitute “a small number of extremists sending tens of thousands of tweets and other messages” to bully and intimidate advertisers.

    Yet, there hasn’t been a peep about the insidious #StopRush smear campaign from Menczer and his Obama administration-backed liberal snitch squad. It’s time for some truth in Truthy advertising.

    http://michellemalkin.com/2014/11/12...of-you-and-me/

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