A new left-wing political action committee advised by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal is reportedly planning to use software that was developed to be used against Islamic terrorists, and was developed using taxpayer money, to combat positive messaging about President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in an apparent attempt to upend Trump’s chances at winning re-election.
“The group, Defeat Disinfo, will use artificial intelligence and network analysis to map discussion of the president’s claims on social media,” The Washington Post reported. “It will seek to intervene by identifying the most popular counter-narratives and boosting them through a network of more than 3.4 million influencers across the country — in some cases paying users with large followings to take sides against the president.”
However, a review of Defeat Disinfo’s website shows that it promotes blatant disinformation against the president, like claiming that Trump “told us to inject disinfectants into our bodies,” a claim that has been debunked.
“The initiative is run by Curtis Hougland, who received initial funding for the technology from DARPA, the Pentagon’s research arm, as part of an effort to combat extremism overseas,” The Post added.
Shortly after The Post published its report on the Democrat-aligned group, questions began to rise about taking a taxpayer funded technology that was designed for war and using it for political purposes against an American citizen.
Fox News Editor Gregg Re highlighted responses from social media companies about using such a product on their platforms:
A spokesperson for Facebook told Fox News that “our policies require creators and publishers to tag business partners in their branded content posts when there’s an exchange of value between a creator or publisher and a business partner.”
Politicians and PACs who are authorized under Facebook’s policy entitled “Ads About Social Issues, Elections or Politics” are allowed to use the site’s branded content tool, the spokesperson added.
As part of the authorization process for advertisers, Facebook says on its website that it “confirms their ID and allows them to disclose who is responsible for the ad, which will appear on the ad itself. The ad and ‘Paid for by’ disclaimer are placed in the Ad Library for seven years, along with more information such as range of spend and impressions, as well as demographics of who saw it.”
Twitter did not respond to Fox News’ requests for comment regarding the group’s apparent desire to pay social media influencers to promote certain political messages, which may be a violation of Twitter’s terms of service.
In the 2017 Alabama special Senate election, Democrats used tactics that have been used by Russian disinformation operatives “including the creation of fake accounts to deliver misleading messages on Facebook to hundreds of thousands of voters to help elect Democrat Doug Jones in the deeply red state,” The Washington Post reported last year.
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