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

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.

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I think this is cool (though, I know it is illegal) - but "IF" it were used above-board AND equal, just think of all the "false rumors" and stuff to mislead and start political trouble and public strife that would be discovered coming out of the WH directly and/or by those the WH pays to pretend to be citizens for them and also the mainstream media.  It would be a wild disclosure of all the crap we've endured by a purposeful and well-armed Administration and its army of liars.

This is a pure clandestine anti-conservative, disregard the First Amendment censorship tool and was never intended to be anything else.

Totally agree!!

Roger.... B-I-N-G-O.

Exactamundo!!!!!!

SO RIGHT CENSORSHIP OF ANYTHING BUT WHAT THEY WANT PURE COMMUNISM

Are you serious? Don't you understand the danger it would pose in the hands of dishonest people, especially dishonest politicians. It's like Brave New Word or Animal Farm.

I hope your post is satirical.

Are you not awake or just stupid? This is another attempt to control what we see and hear. Nothing more!

The National Science Foundation (NSF) project designed to track “misinformation” on Twitter has removed portions of its website that monitored political users, including conservatives who used the “tcot” hashtag.

“Truthy,” the nearly $1 million research project being conducted by the University of Indiana, has redesigned its website following the Washington Free Beacon’s initial report on the study.

The service is intended to monitor “suspicious memes” and “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.

Truthy has received increased media attention since Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai published an editorial last week warning that the project could be misused. “The concept seems to have come straight out of a George Orwell novel,” he wrote.

Pai pointed out that Truthy devoted a section of its website to tracking the use of hashtags such as #tcot, #teaparty, and #dems, evaluating “whether accounts are expressing ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ sentiments toward other users or memes.”

The “Political Topics” page where this information was found no longer exists, and was removed around the time Pai’s editorial was published with links to the website.

Screenshots taken by the Free Beacon in August show the site in its previous form, where it monitored hundreds of conservative Twitter users when they used #tcot. The site recorded the number of retweets, mentions, partisanship of the user, “sentiment,” and language of the tweets.

Twitter accounts listed included the Drudge Report, Ann Coulter, Byron York, and Fox and Friends. The top user listed was Pat Dollard, a conservative filmmaker. The user statistics page on #tcot has been deleted.

At the time, Truthy said the “Top Conservatives on Twitter” hashtag is the “most popular meme we track.” Persons visiting the Truthy website also had the option to “tell us what you think about” any Twitter account using the hash tag.

“We are collecting your responses to build a truthiness and spam detection tool, which will detect persuasion and spam campaigns,” the website said.

Screenshot of #tcot monitoring page on Truthy

Screenshot of #tcot monitoring page on Truthy

Truthy used to tout that it relies on people visiting the site to report on other Twitter users.

“To train our algorithms, we leverage crowdsourcing: we rely on users like you to flag injections of forged grass-roots activity,” a web archive of the Truthy about page states. “Therefore, click on the Truthy button when you see a suspicious meme!”

This line has since been deleted.

The website now focuses on social bots, geography of Twitter trends, and a gallery that shows “diffusion networks” of memes studied in 2010 and 2011, including #usa, and @barackobama.

The Free Beacon asked Truthy’s head researcher Filippo Menczer, a professor of Informatics and Computer Science at Indiana University, why these portions have been deleted. Menczer first said that truthy.indiana.edu is not the Truthy project website, and the changes were a result of updates that happen from “time to time.”

“Actually, this is the Truthy project research site,” he said, linking to a page on Indiana University’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research website that includes information about the project.

“The website to which you refer (truthy.indiana.edu) has been used to present some demos, visualizations, tools, and data resources highlighting some broader impacts of the project,” Menczer said. “From time to time we update the demo site to reflect current research, add new demos and updates, and remove out-of-date information and old demos that are no longer working.”

Menczer said monitoring hash tags like #tcot were from research conducted four years ago, though they remained on the site until at least Oct. 14.

“The portions to which you refer were about work we did in the early stages of the project, providing visual analytics about memes about news, politics, and social movements, based on public tweets from around 2010,” he said. “The results of that research were published in 2011 and 2012 (you can find our papers on the project research site).”

“About specific memes, we provided analytics about *all* memes (hashtags, URLs, phrases, etc) that we extracted from public tweets,” Menczer added. “#tcot just happened to be one of millions, and since it is widely used, at one point we used its diffusion network as an illustration of normal, ‘organic’ political conversations on Twitter.”

“This was contrasted with a few examples of memes spreading spam or promoted by fake accounts (‘astroturf’),” he said.

Menczer said the part of the website that asked users to mark other Twitter users as spam was one angle that they exploring that did not prove reliable, and that Truthy is “no longer focusing on those domains of news, politics, and social movements.”

Menczer has defended the project as a nonpartisan computer system incapable of determining whether a tweet “constitutes ‘misinformation,’” and then attacked the Free Beacon in a blog post at the Washington Post for igniting a “misinformation campaign” about Truthy.

However, the “about” section of the Truthy website explains that the service’s purpose is to detect “misinformation” and “social pollution” on Twitter.

“We also plan to use Truthy to detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution,” the website says.

When asked how Truthy can detect misinformation and social pollution if those terms are not defined, Menczer said, “There is no attempt to make editorial definitions or decisions about the content of messages.”

“Rather, we are interested in exploring whether there are statistical signatures in the diffusion patterns that a machine learning algorithm could identify to differentiate between normal, organic conversations and attempts to systematically abuse social media in order to drive people out of online conversation,” he said.

The Free Beacon also asked Menczer why detecting “hate speech” was included in the original grant proposal, and how he defines the term. Menczer declined to offer his definition.

“You are referring to a sentence from the broader impact section of the abstract of the grant proposal submitted to NSF in 2010,” he said. “Taken out of its proper context, that sentence can be quite misleading. That passage refers to a proposed public and open web service to allow anyone to access information and visualizations about how memes propagate through social media.”

Menczer said the detecting hate speech line originates from when they were applying for the grant and the NSF asked the researchers to speculate potential uses for the project.

“We do believe that it could help people make better informed assessments of the information that they see online,” he said. “For instance, a user might find it easier to determine that a link will lead to malware.”

Truthy is still looking into “whether it is possible to automatically detect misinformation (rumors, astroturf, malicious social bots, and so on).”

Menczer no longer publicly advertises 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.

He previously linked to each of the organizations on his personal page from his bio at the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research. The page is now password protected, with a message that says, “Menczer HomerPage is for family and friends only.”

The project is now under investigation by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

“The NSF is out of touch and out of control,” said chairman Lamar Smith (R., Texas). “The Science Committee is investigating how this grant came to be awarded taxpayer dollars. The NSF must be held accountable for its funding decisions.”

After sending additional follow up questions as to why the site was only recently changed given that Menczer said the research was conducted four years ago, the university said that they will no longer be taking inquiries from the Free Beacon.

“The timing of recently completed updates to the site is purely coincidental to any other events and surely is not in response to outside commentary on the project by any individual,” said Mark Land, Associate Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations at Indiana University. “The truth, which I hope you are interested in printing, is that updating the site was a long and complex process done over the better part of a year as students and others associated with the project had time. There is no way the updates released recently could have been done in a few days—or even a few weeks—given the level of staff available to handle such a project.”

“I also wanted to let you know that we will have no further comment to you on this project or the work of our faculty members in this area,” Land said.

get use to it demon rats there are a ton of investigations headed your way.

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 story on 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.”

I know Steve Tucker.   He is one hell of a patriot.  He has given speeches throughout

our state and others concerning the ACA.   He knows his stuff.  

Steve was also targeted by the IRS about a 2 yrs ago for helping a man that had

his healthcare cancelled while fighting cancer.   Steven found the loophole, basicly

the HEPA law written in the 90's that states people cannot have their health insurance

cancelled.    This obviously was overlooked while writing the damn law, but I am sure

they have fixed it.  They have capitalized on this section of the law, that was not true.             Both Steve and the man were targeted.   

Welcome to Amerika.

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ALERT ALERT

CRIME!! -> Clinton Nightmare! Chief Financial Officer Of Clinton Foundation Turns Government Informant On Crime Family

Donations to the Clinton Foundation plummeted by 90% over a three-year period since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to President Donald Trump.

But that may be the least of the her worries.

John Solomon from The Hill dropped another bombshell that will keep the Clintons up at night.

The former Chief Financial Officer of the Clinton Foundation has turned on the crime family and is now working as a government informant.

This could spell doom for the Clinton Crime Family.

American Thinker reported:

John Solomon of The Hill reveals the story that has been percolating for a long time but kept tightly under wraps – because that is what serious prosecutors do, especially when grand juries are poring over evidence and issuing indictments that remain sealed until the right moment comes. The trigger for the story coming out now probably is a House subcommittee hearing scheduled next week by Mark Meadows, chair of the House Freedom Caucus, while the GOP still can set the agenda of House hearings.

[A] GOP-led congressional subcommittee, led by Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.), is planning to hold a hearing next week to review the work of John Huber, the special U.S attorney named a year ago to investigate all things Clinton.

It turns out that whistleblowers inside and outside the Clinton Foundation have amassed “6,000 pages of evidence attached to a whistleblower submission filed secretly more than a year ago with the IRS and FBI.” Among that evidence can be found:

Those reviews flagged serious concerns about legal compliance, improper commingling of personal and charity business and “quid pro quo” promises made to donors while Hillary Clinton was secretary of State.

The submission also cites an interview its investigators conducted with Andrew Kessel that quotes the foundation’s longtime chief financial officer as saying he was unable to stop former President Clinton from “commingling” personal business and charitable activities inside the foundation and that he “knows where all the bodies are buried.”

Their own investigation! That’s hard to put down as politically motivated.

Having the chief financial officer of the Clinton Foundation turn informant is a nightmare for the Clintons. The CFO has to process all the cash, and because that person usually is on the hook for any criminal violations, there is ample incentive to turn state’s evidence.

That evidence was assembled by a private firm called MDA Analytics LLC, run by accomplished ex-federal criminal investigators, who alleged the Clinton Foundation engaged in illegal activities and may be liable for millions of dollars in delinquent taxes and penalties.

In addition to the IRS, the firm’s partners have had contact with prosecutors in the main Justice Department in Washington and FBI agents in Little Rock, Ark.

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