Counterterrorism Tools for Censorship?
Defense tools are being adapted to combat ‘misinformation’. What will this mean?
From Just the News. The government’s campaign to fight “misinformation” has expanded to adapt military-grade artificial intelligence once used to silence the Islamic State (ISIS) to quickly identify and censor American dissent on issues like vaccine safety and election integrity, according to grant documents and cyber experts.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded several million dollars in grants recently to universities and private firms to develop tools eerily similar to those developed in 2011 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in its Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program.
DARPA said those tools were used “to help identify misinformation or deception campaigns and counter them with truthful information,” beginning with the Arab Spring uprisings in the the Middle East that spawned ISIS over a decade ago.
The initial idea was to track dissidents who were interested in toppling U.S.-friendly regimes or to follow any potentially radical threats by examining political posts on Big Tech platforms.
DARPA set four specific goals for the program:
- “Detect, classify, measure and track the (a) formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes), and (b) purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation.
- Recognize persuasion campaign structures and influence operations across social media sites and communities.
- Identify participants and intent, and measure effects of persuasion campaigns.
- Counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations.”
Mike Benz, executive director of the Foundation for Freedom Online has compiled a report detailing how this technology is being developed to manipulate the speech of Americans via the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other organizations. …
The new version of this technology, he added, is openly targeting two groups: Those wary of potential adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccine and those skeptical of recent U.S. election results.
“The terrifying thing is, as all of this played out, it was redirected inward during 2016 — domestic populism was treated as a foreign national security threat,” Benz said. …
“This is really an embodiment of the whole of society censorship framework that departments like DHS talked about as being their utopian vision for censorship only a few years ago,” Benz said. “We see it now truly in fruition.” …
There is a push, said Benz during an appearance on “Just The News No Noise” this week, to fold the media into branches of the federal government in an effort to dissolve the Fourth Estate, in favor of an Orwellian and incestuous partnership to destroy the independence of the press.
The advent of COVID led to “normalizing censorship in the name of public health,” Benz recounted, “and then in the run to the 2020 election, all manner of political censorship was shoehorned in as being okay to be targetable using AI because of issues around mail-in ballots and early voting drop boxes and issues around January 6th.
“What’s happened now is the government says, ‘Okay, we’ve established this normative foothold in it being okay to [censor political speech], now we’re going to supercharge you guys with all sorts of DARPA military grade censorship, weaponry, so that you can now take what you’ve achieved in the censorship space and scale it to the level of a U.S. counterinsurgency operation.'” …
The NSF is acting, in one sense, as a kind of cutout for the military, Benz explained, allowing the defense establishment to indirectly stifle domestic critics of Pentagon spending without leaving fingerprints. “Why are they targeting right-wing populists?” he asked. “Because they’re the only ones challenging budgets for [defense agencies].”
He added: “These agencies know they’re not supposed to be doing this. They’re not normally this sloppy. But they won’t ever say the words ‘remove content.'” …
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(Excerpt from Just the News. Photo Credit: Canva)
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