DARPA Plot To Censor Internet Expression

Coming soon from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is another assault on American freedoms. This time the fed is hatching a scheme to hire third-party contractors to build a software system that can seek and destroy all online social media content deemed to be “fake news” – as defined by Big Brother.

Allowing military-industrial organizations the power to decide what is or isn’t fake news comes dangerously close to infringing upon citizen’s First Amendment rights. In fact, some critics say the line has already been crossed. Anyone who takes issue with the prevailing political view will be silenced and effectively disappear from the internet.

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An Infowars editor warned:

“This is a bipartisan takeover of the Internet to kill dissident speech as we outlined last year when top neocons said Facebook censorship of conservatives was ‘just the beginning’ during a conference in Germany.”

Semantic Forensics (SemaFor for short – get it?) is DARPA’s latest ploy to censor the internet and justify warrantless intrusion into user-provided information. Computer algorithms will scan more than 500,000 stories, videos, images and audio files for any prohibited communications – and try to interpret what the writer meant. (Let’s hope that teaching the computers about humorous satire is one of the project requirements.)

The federal agency held a proposers day on August 28, 2019, to provide more details exclusively to prospective bidders about the anti-American project:

“The Semantic Forensics (SemaFor) program will develop technologies to automatically detect, attribute, and characterize falsified multi-modal media assets (text, audio, image, video) to defend against large-scale, automated disinformation attacks.”

Computer techniques previously funded by Big Brother aren’t very effective at telling the difference between legitimate and false news stories. According to DARPA, algorithms that rely heavily on “purely data-driven approaches…are prone to making semantic errors” – they can match keywords but they can’t understand what humans are talking about:

“Detection techniques that rely on statistical fingerprints can often be fooled with limited additional resources (algorithm development, data, or compute).”

The automated program will systematically review news articles, images, and videos to ferret out “polarizing viral content” and remove all content posted with “malicious intent” from the internet, which, ironically, started out as a platform for free and equal expression.

SemaFor will use multiple computer programs called algorithms to find inconsistencies and judge whether text or a meme is fake or inauthentic. Developers must create a system that can pinpoint the origin of the meme, the intent behind it, and even predict the impact of its spread.

According to DARPA, SemaFor technologies “will help identify, deter, and understand adversary disinformation campaigns,” via three collaborative components:

  1. Semantic detection algorithms will determine if multi-modal media assets have been generated or manipulated.
  2. Attribution algorithms will infer if multi-modal media originates from a particular organization or individual.
  3. Characterization algorithms will reason about whether multi-modal media was generated or manipulated for malicious purposes.

Allowing machines to judge human intention is very, very dangerous. Allowing humans to build machines thought capable of judging human intentions is equally so. As Infowars – a conservative news media network that has been banned from social media and financial platforms for speaking out for Patriots – pointed out:

“Given that the program doesn’t take into account the fact that so-called ‘trusted sources’ in the mainstream media have been responsible for some of the biggest fake news stories in modern history, such as Trump-Russia election collusion, the software will only succeed in eliminating dissident narratives.”

While cleansing the internet of disinformation sounds like a noble cause, it has been used before by totalitarian regimes that succeeded in controlling the mass media to further their propaganda campaigns. As one concerned citizen put it:

“But the Pentagon’s targets aren’t limited to deepfakes, the bogeyman-of-the-month being used to justify this unprecedented military intrusion into the social media and news realm, or fake news at all.”

If Pentagon officials decide that their first official federal censorship program is a success – by their standards, of course – after a four-year trial, then it’s full steam ahead to broaden the project’s scope to include all “malice intent” communicated online.

To test the SemaFor program, the Pentagon has to include 5,000 convincing fake stories among 500,000 test stories.

The DARPA project is riddled with problems, not the least of which is that federal agents and Pentagon staffers have been found guilty of running fake social media profiles to collect intelligence on persons of interest. NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden documented the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) information-war program, for example.

Another eyebrow-raiser is DARPA’s endorsement of certain mainstream news outlets deemed reliable and truthful. MSNBC hasn’t completely retracted its completely unverified “Russian cosigners” fake news story. The network also invented a scare story that the Trump administration planned to end birthright citizenship for the children of U.S. service members born overseas which proved groundless – but not before it made the rounds on social media.

It’s time for all American Patriots to contact their elected officials and Just Say No to taxpayer-funded Pentagon internet censorship!

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