Cruz Demands Feds Prove $66 Million Towards Policing ‘Misinformation’ Wasn’t Used To Censor Free Speech

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has demanded that the National Science Foundation (NSF) prove that more than $65 million in federal funds it spent combating ‘misinformation’ wasn’t spent infringing on lawful speech.

As part of a list of questions submitted to NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, Cruz identified 105 grants allocated between 2021 and 2023 worth a cumulative $66 million, which was aimed at better identifying and correcting ‘misinformation.’

Cruz wants Panchanathan to demonstrate that the grants are consistent with the First Amendment – and if they’re not, to “indicate whether [he] will reevaluate and possibly rescind the award,” the Daily Caller reports.

When you’re funding others who are engaged in censorship, you’re undermining support for your very important agency,” Cruz said to Panchanathan in an Oct. 4 hearing that predicated the letter.

Panchanathan replied that the NSF doesn’t censor anyone or work with groups that enforce censorship.

“I want to say one thing very categorically, we do not—NSF does not engage in censorship. We do not regulate any content and engage with anybody who also does so,” he told Cruz at the hearing.

Cruz, however, says his analysis “directly contradicts [Panchanathan’s] claim that NSF does not engage with anybody who regulates content,” since the “NSF has funded over 100 academic projects that are aimed at supposedly reducing ‘mis-, dis-, and mal-information,’ much of which is simply content that the progressive left does not agree with.”

One grant to the University of Wisconsin for $5 million identified by Cruz was aimed at creating a “digital dashboard” that could be used by “election administration officials” or “public health organizations” so they can “identify trending misinformation networks on social media platforms” and “strategically correct misinformation.”

The NSF doled out an additional $5 million to the University of Washington to “provide the public with skills for determining the truthfulness of claims” and “resources for addressing the social and emotional impacts of  misinformation” while also designing and implementing “a socio-technical platform that supports digital literacy interventionists.”

Two other grants flagged by Cruz, $441,200 to the University of Utah and $396,000 to New York University, were issued “to transform the efficiency, effectiveness, and scale of fact-checking … enabl[ing] fact-checkers to spot misinformation early, prioritize effort, and unify the various tools and techniques used for fact-checking.” -Daily Caller

Cruz also identified a $16,014 grant to the University of Oklahoma, which was awarded to develop “a software platform that may be integrated into crisis management systems such as public health (WHO, CDC), emergency management (FEMA), and transportation (DOT) agencies to facilitate the transmission of correct information and provide the option to notify social media providers of identified misinformation.”

“By doling out tens of millions of dollars to third parties who seek to censor constitutionally protected speech, the National Science Foundation has been repeatedly infringing on Americans’ First Amendment rights,” one GOP Commerce Committee spokesperson told the Daily Caller. “The NSF should immediately halt all grants aiding in efforts to trample over Americans’ right to free speech.”


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