The National Science Foundation (NSF) is pouring millions into research and the development of tools to combat online mis- and disinformation, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of agency grants.
Since the start of the Biden administration, the total NSF dollars spent on “misinformation” related projects have reached $38.8 million, according to a November report by the Foundation for Freedom Online (FFO). However, NSF has awarded even more grants to combat mis- and disinformation since the release of FFO’s report, the DCNF found.
Most grants reviewed by the DCNF, which are ongoing and have past disbursement dates ranging from July 2019 to Dec. 2022, fall under the “Convergence Accelerator Track F: Trust & Authenticity in Communication Systems” or “Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC).”
The disinformation industry is growing and increasingly used to inform social media platforms content moderation policies, which seem to disproportionately target conservative speech. Last week, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported that the U.S. State Department helped fund the “disinformation” monitor Global Disinformation Index (GDI), which the Washington Examiner earlier found maintains a blacklist of conservative media groups and websites rated based on disinformation risk that ad companies in turn utilize to defund.
Aaron Terr, Director of Public Advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), told the Daily Caller News Foundation it is “not a far-fetched scenario” to imagine the government using the technology it is funding through NSF to regulate speech.
“The government doesn’t violate the First Amendment simply by funding research, but it’s troubling when tax dollars are used to develop censorship technology,” said Terr. “If the government ultimately used this technology to regulate allegedly false online speech, or coerced digital platforms to use it for that purpose, that would violate the First Amendment. Given government officials’ persistent pressure on social media platforms to regulate misinformation, that’s not a far-fetched scenario.” Read more…