Fact-checking has become a virtual industry unto itself in the last several years, but this trend has arguably created more controversies than it attempts to resolve. And with the advent of a government-funded fact-checking project called Truthy, it appears our fact-checking culture may have finally veered into the sinister.
On March 10, 2011, President Barack Obama led a White House conference on a crisis plaguing America: the crisis of bullying. In the middle of the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, with American soldiers involved in two wars overseas, with Iran on the brink of nuclear weapons development, the White House was focused, laserlike, on kids getting thrown into lockers.
See, that’s the dirty little secret: buried beneath all of the left’s supposed hatred for bullying is a passionate love for bullying—the use of power to force those who disagree to shut up, back down, or face crushing consequences up to and including loss of reputation, career destruction, and even death. The left’s anti-bullying stance is an enormous lie. It is a purposeful lie. It is a lie designed to disguise the fact that leftists are the greatest group of bullies in American history.
===Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans (Ben Shapiro)
Professional fact-checkers, many of whom sprout from traditional media outlets that themselves should be the subject of scrutiny, attempt to debunk what they see as false narratives and dubious claims. They offer charming methods of ranking their findings, such as pants on fire, Pinocchios, and so on.
But as often as not, their arguments and conclusions come under fire from others, too. Critics examine their target selection, their use and analysis of the data, and their conclusions, and accuse the fact-checkers of having agendas of their own. It makes for a robust debate, which only underscores the fact that a definitive and categorical identification of “truth” remains elusive to the fact-checking industry.
The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.
The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.
The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.”
The university has received $919,917 so far for the project.
“The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly,” the grant states. “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,” it continues. “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,” the grant said.
“Truthy,” which gets its name from Stephen Colbert, will catalog how information is spread on Twitter, including political campaigns.