Democrats Using Taxpayer-Funded Anti-Terrorist Military Software to Attack Trump
Left-wing group using software designed to combat ISIS to take down president
Democrats are using taxpayer-funded military software, designed to combat terrorists, in a new effort to target President Donald Trump and his supporters.
Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal is leading an anti-Trump Democratic-aligned political action committee (PAC) that is planning to deploy an information warfare tool that received initial funding from the Pentagon’s secretive research arm DARPA.
The PAC is transforming the technology, originally envisioned as a way to fight ISIS propaganda, into a campaign platform to benefit presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The Washington Post first reported that the action, called Defeat Disinfo.
According to WaPo, the initiative will utilize "artificial intelligence and network analysis to map discussion of the president’s claims on social media."
It will then attempt 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."
According to Fox News, social media guru Curtis Hougland is heading up Defeat Disinfo, and he received the funding from DARPA when his program was "part of an effort to combat extremism overseas."
He explained in an interview with the Post that he was unhappy that top social media accounts often supported Trump, and had effectively defended the president in recent days from false claims that he had suggested Americans inject themselves with disinfectant.
The effort raised the question of whether taxpayer funds were being repurposed for political means, and whether social media platforms have rules in place that could stymie Hougland's efforts -- if he plays along.
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."
In 2018, Twitter launched its Political Campaigning Policy, which promises a degree of "transparency" for paid political communications.
The policy requires "advertisers who want to run political campaigning ads for Federal elections to self-identify and certify that they are located in the US Candidates and committees will have to provide their FEC ID, and non-FEC registered organizations and individuals will have to submit a notarized form."
Additionally, "handles used for political campaigning advertising will have to comply with stricter requirements," Twitter's policy states.
"The handle’s profile photo, header photo, and website must be consistent with its online presence and the Twitter bio must include a website that provides valid contact information.
"We will also be including a visual badge and disclaimer information on promoted content from certified accounts in the near future.
"This will allow users to easily identify political campaigning ads, know who paid for them, and whether it was authorized by a candidate."
Twitter provided an image of what promoted political content ideally would look like.
McChrystal, who led U.S. forces in Afghanistan before he was fired by then-President Obama in 2010 for deriding his civilian bosses in a Rolling Stone interview, told the Post that the operation was necessary, even if it might appear unseemly.
"Everyone wishes the Pandora’s box was closed and none of this existed, but it does," McChrystal said.
McChrystal has not yet explicitly endorsed Biden, even though the new information warfare project is intended to help his candidacy.