Wednesday, August 5, 2020

#COVID19 & HR 6800--Disinformation Research Funding-- NSF AWARD PROPOSAL

     "...the government will now be tasked in deciding who gets research money to uncover just how disinformation gets out into the public domain ..."     


     (LAB107) -- Apparently kids can get sick from the virus just like everybody else even though the president insisted they are immune. In response to that recent statement, Facebook removed that insistence, calling it "Covid misinformation." But a spokeswoman for the president's re-election campaign didn't agree, as reported by Donnie O'Sullivan on CNN Business;
     "Courtney Parella, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, said in response to Facebook's takedown that the President was 'stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus.' She accused Silicon Valley of being biased against the President and said 'social media companies are not the arbiters of truth.' " (1)

     Exactly where the truth lies and where the White House is at odds with social media over it, may well be settled in the near future if HR 6800 is passed with the proposed grants for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The current HR 6800 "emergency supplemental appropriations" related to coronavirus relief, passed by the House of Representatives in May and now up for approval in the senate, awards money to the National Science Foundation; 
      "For an additional amount for 'Research and Related Activities', $125,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2022, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including to fund research grants, of which $1,000,000 shall be for a study on the spread of COVID–19 related disinformation:" (2)

The section describes research grant funding with a focus on six main points: disinformation and public response, sources of that false info, the role of social media in dissemination, is money being made on the false information, strategies and limitations of disinformation mitigation.
     Given the immense sums of money being doled out if the legislation passes through the senate and the president signs off on it, the disinformation grants amount to a mere pittance compared to some of the bigger expenditures in the proposed bill. But it does represent a new trend, not just by responsible social media as "arbiters of truth," but the government will now be tasked in deciding who gets research money to uncover just how disinformation gets out into the public domain, and somehow manages to go viral, just like the virus itself. 

    The overall transfer of funds to the NSF amounts to $125 million even though only $1 million of that is for disinformation research, as outlined in Title II of Division A of HR 6800. But it's an important step in putting the guilty parties on notice as to possible legislation in the future that will have a more criminal negligence tone to disinformation.  Currently, there doesn't appear to be any direct updates available over at the NSF regarding funding for disinformation, or mention of the proposal in HR 6800. (3)

Facebook removed a Trump post because it violated the company's policies banning 'harmful COVID misinformation'

Facebook took down a post by President Donald Trump for violating its policies against misinformation, the company confirmed. Trump posted a video of his interview with Fox News where he falsely claimed that children are "almost immune" from COVID-19, which CNN reporter Donie O'Sullivan captured before it was removed from Facebook.


NSF Logo from government site.