Indiana University is receiving nearly $1 million in federal grant money to work out how Internet memes are born, how they spread and die.
The National Science Foundation will award four Indiana researchers $919,917 to for a project called Truthy that will, as the grant’s abstract explains, “explore why some ideas cause viral explosions while others are quickly forgotten.” The idea is to discover which memes are organic and which ones are political manipulations by groups keen to brain wash people.
The theory is that while the vast majority of memes arise in a perfectly organic manner, driven by the complex mechanisms of life on the Web, some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns, the researchers site said. Truthy pulls in tweets using what its website calls a “Gardenhose,” deletes messages that are deemed “unlikely to contain political discussion,” and highlights hashtags, usernames, and Web addresses in the remaining tweets. The project can evaluate “thousands of tweets an hour.”
What is strange is that the early research is that this trick is being used by US conservatives to manipulate American thought and some are already complaining that state money should not be used to reveal their secrets.