A government-funded project studying the spread of information on Twitter has drawn questions in recent days. Specifically, the researchers’ stated aim “to use Truthy to detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution” has led several commentators to raise flags of concern, including FOX News and The Washington Times. However, while noting the data mining project studies such things as “bots” pretending to be people on Twitter among potential avenues of social media abuse, the project leader, Dr. Filippo Menczer, contends that Truthy is not designed to determine if a statement is misinformation or to allow the government to monitor its critics. Speaking to a Columbia Journalism Review reporter, Dr. Menczer declared, “We are not defining hate speech. We are not tracking people. We don’t have a database.” The National Science Foundation has awarded nearly a million dollars to Truthy.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: September 5, 2014