Smith blasts federal funding of Twitter study

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) recently criticized the federal funding of a study that he says analyzes political messages on Twitter to detect “subversive propaganda” on the social media platform.

The Truthy study is being led by researchers from Indiana University and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It has come under scrutiny recently in coverage by FOX News, an op-ed piece in the Washington Post by Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai and the Washington Free Beacon.

Smith, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said the NSF must be held accountable for its funding decisions.

“The government has no business using taxpayer dollars to support limiting free speech on Twitter and other social media,” he said. “While the science committee has recently looked into a number of other questionable NSF grants, this one appears to be worse than a simple misuse of public funds. The NSF is out of touch and out of control. The science committee is investigating how this grant came to be awarded taxpayer dollars.”

In an interview with Hearst Newspapers, Truthy lead researcher Filippo Menczer said his project aims to preserve free speech, not limit it. Truthy studies Twitter usernames, hashtags, URLs and mentions to evaluate the spread of information online.

The Free Beacon story on the project hinted that Truthy is using federal funding to advance a liberal agenda.