Tuesday, March 21, 2023
A group of professors is using taxpayer dollars doled out by the federal government to develop a new misinformation fact-checking tool called “Course Correct.”
National Science Foundation funding, awarded through a pair of grants from 2021 and 2022, has amounted to more than $5.7 million for the development of this tool, which, according to the grant abstracts, is intended to aid reporters, public health organizations, election administration officials, and others to address so-called misinformation on topics such as U.S. elections and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
This $5.7 million in grant money is on top of nearly another $200,000 awarded in 2020 through a Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act-funded NSF grant for a project focused in part on mental health that Course Correct is said to have grown out of.
According to the abstract of the 2021 grant, Course Correct’s developers, a group of five professors from various institutions nationwide, are using techniques related to machine learning and natural language processing to identify social media posts pertaining to electoral skepticism and vaccine hesitancy, identify people likely to be exposed to misinformation in the future, and flag at-risk online communities for intervention.
“Democracy and public health in the United States rely on trust in institutions,” the professors wrote in the grant abstract. “Skepticism regarding the integrity of U.S. elections and hesitancy related to COVID-19 vaccines are two consequences of a decline in confidence in basic political processes and core medical institutions.”
The College Fix recently reached out to several of the researchers associated with Course Correct, including Michael Wagner of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Wagner is also listed as the principal investigator on the 2021 and 2022 grants.
Wherever the feds point the firehose of money, there our brave academic truth-seekers will be found, even if the hose is pointed at truth-suppression. It's a marvelous thing, is money.