The Federal government is expert at wasting money. Worse, they are expert at finding sneaky ways to both invade your privacy and to create excuses to violate citizens’ rights through unlawful lock-ups, stealing of property, and harassment.
But this one may take the cake when it comes to both wasting money and potential uses to control American citizens.
Under the guise of trying to ensure the truth of memes online, the Federal government is working to “create an online database that will collect ‘suspicious’ memes and track ‘misinformation.’” (hat tip to here for the source) This database, which is funded by The National Science Foundation, is called the “Truthy Database,” and, if we trusted the Federal government to actually look for and promote the truth, we might have supported this effort.
But the Federal government does not have a history of intellectual honesty. That’s why so many lawsuits are filed just to get them to release information that shouldn’t have been hidden from us in the first place. Don’t we pay their salaries?
The grant for the database said,
“The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly. 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. 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.”
But the database hasn’t gone online yet, and it isn’t open source. This means that someone has put together data, and they aren’t allowing even the debate of other people not affiliated with the project to make changes to promote other viewpoints. This doesn’t exactly preserve “open debate.”
Further, the database is tracking memes. The website has this to say,
“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.”
Can someone clarify why the people running this database should be able to label one Congressional campaign as “shady” versus the proclamations from another Congressional campaign, and why would it be the government’s, especially The National Science Foundation, right or duty to police memes online? Isn’t this just thinly-veiled thought-police activity manipulate and control what we think?
This is just another case where it is in our best interest to watch those who claim to be watching out for us because, often, they have ulterior motives that they haven’t shared with us.
What do you think about this new database? Tell us below.