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.

read more:

http://freebeacon.com/issues/house-committee-demands-answers-on-tru...

Views: 416

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

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.

RSS

LIGHTER SIDE

The cartoonist's homepage, indystar.com/opinion/varvel

ALERT ALERT

Schumer Refusing To Help Border Kids
Wants To Hurt Trump Instead

The controversy over how underage illegal aliens are handled at the border is heating up — but Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer just rejected a good-faith proposal to fix the problem.

A growing number of people on both sides of the political aisle have expressed concern for border separations, which occur when migrants are caught breaking the law along the border while they have children with them, or when the often exploitative relationship between adults and minors at the border cannot be established.

A vast amount of mis-information and outright lying about the situation has muddied the water, making it tough to understand the situation in its entirety.

Both liberals and conservatives, however, have voiced their support for a better system that results in fewer family separations, and even President Donald Trump has indicated that he is willing to stand with Congress if they change the law.

Shockingly, however, it looks like one of the most well-known faces of the Democratic party isn’t willing to take action, and is instead playing politics in order to attack Trump.

On Tuesday, Schumer openly rejected a Republican proposal to fix the immigrant separation problem at the legislative level, and instead whined about the president.

“There are so many obstacles to legislation and when the president can do it with his own pen, it makes no sense,” Schumer stated, according to The Hill.

“Legislation is not the way to go here when it’s so easy for the president to sign it,” he complained.

Democrats Reject Bill To Keep Families Together At Border – Schumer Says He “Wants To Keep Focus On Trump”

Think about that for a second: The president’s job is to execute existing laws. The legislature’s job is to change or enact new laws when needed.

A senator elected to the legislature for exactly that purpose is now refusing to do his job and pass legislation, while simultaneously blaming the president for enforcing the existing laws, as he is sworn to do.

If there was any doubt that Schumer and the Democrats are playing politics instead of trying to actually help migrant families, the senator made his intentions clear: Obstruct and point fingers at Trump.

“Asked if that meant Democrats would not support a bill backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to keep immigrant families together while seeking asylum on the U.S. border, Schumer said they want to keep the focus on Trump,” The Hill explained.

Make no mistake: The Democrats dragging their feet and refusing to back legislation already drafted by Republicans will prolong the problems at the border.

“Schumer’s opposition to a legislative fix means there likely won’t be a quick end to the emotional images of immigrant children being separated from their families unless Trump backs down,” The Hill reported.

“Democrats want to keep the pressure on Trump instead of having Congress assume responsibility for the growing crisis,” the news outlet continued.

Again: There’s a solution ready to go, with Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ready to support it. Yet Democrats like Schumer apparently believe that scoring political points against Trump is more important than helping broken families on the border, even as their own liberal voters demand action.

“Congress alone can fix it,” stated Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday.

“I support, and all of the senators of the Republican conference support, a plan that keeps families together,” McConnell agreed.

“We need to fix the problem and it requires a legislative solution,” he said.

Yet Democrats refuse to budge.

This “do nothing but blame Trump” response from the left should prove beyond a doubt that all the tears and hand-wringing from liberals are disingenuous. They’re for show. If it was truly about helping innocent kids at the border, Schumer and his fellow Democrats could act right now.

If their priority was actually to solve the problem and help broken families, scoring points against Trump shouldn’t even be a concern. Even if they believed he was being stubborn on the issue, they could take the high road by doing their jobs and supporting bipartisan legislation.

They don’t, because solving the problem was never their goal. They are playing political games and using devastated children as pawns, while pretending that the president is the monster.

That’s sick… and the American people need to see exactly who is doing the obstruction.

SLAVEHOLDER??

Washington Post Compares
Jeff Sessions To Slaveholder’

The Washington Post compared Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “slaveholders” after he quoted the Bible on Thursday while discussing his department’s policy of prosecuting all illegal immigrants who cross the border.

Sessions made the statement during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

WaPo ran a story entitled “Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families” by general assignment editor Keith McMillan and religion reporter Julie Zauzmer on Friday.

Rather than detailing the statistics Sessions cited in the speech that explain the immigration policy, the story quoted John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“This is the same argument that Southern slaveholders and the advocates of a Southern way of life made,” Fea said.

Sessions spent much of the speech discussing the numbers behind current immigration policy, including separating families at the Southwest border.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said.

“Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

“The previous administration wouldn’t prosecute aliens if they came with children,” Sessions said.

“It was de-facto open borders if you came with children. The results were unsurprising. More and more illegal aliens started showing up at the border with children.”

Sessions laid out the numbers in the speech.

“In 2013, fewer than 15,000 family units were apprehended crossing our border illegally between ports of entry in dangerous areas of the country,” he said.

“Five years later, it was more than 75,000, a five-fold increase in five years. It didn’t even have to be their child that was brought, it could be anyone. You can imagine that this created a lot of danger.”

The U.S. has the “opportunity” to fix its broken immigration system now, Sessions said.

“I believe that’s it’s moral, right, just and decent that we have a lawful system of immigration,” he said. “The American people have been asking for it.”

© 2018   Created by Steve - Ning Creator.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service