By Hudson Crozier
What’s happening: The federal National Science Foundation (NSF) has reportedly paid millions of dollars to adapt artificial intelligence technology for use against social media “misinformation.” The AI tools are similar to those the Pentagon has used to suppress accounts of Islamic terrorists and other foreign actors.
The tech: The Pentagon began using the AI in 2011 to track “deceptive messaging” from Middle Eastern users critical of U.S. military activity and later Islamic State propaganda. A report by the Foundation for Freedom Online shows that the government now uses this technology to censor right-wing opinions on topics like election security and vaccines.
Who’s involved? The NSF uses taxpayer dollars to fund efforts at multiple universities and private organizations to develop censorship technology. Notably, the NSF and Pentagon also paid millions to entities that helped the government censor 2020 election “misinformation.”
Big picture: The federal government is using the private sector to silence constitutionally protected speech on social media. These efforts are part of a larger, disturbing trend where the government increasingly treats nonviolent political activity as a threat akin to terrorism.