The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide $1 million in grant funding to develop “a “public health tool” to predict vaccine “misinformation trends.”
By Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D. | The Defender
Two federal public health agencies will provide $1 million in grant funding to develop “a “public health tool” to predict vaccine “misinformation trends.”
According to the grants.gov website, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will accept grant applications until Jan. 6, 2023 for research:
“ … to develop a predictive forecasting model that identifies new or reemerging misinformation narratives that are likely to disseminate widely and have a high potential for impact on vaccine confidence.
“The information from this model will then be used to develop a tool that public health agencies could use to predict misinformation trends in the populations served. Finally, the researchers will evaluate the tool’s predictive capabilities on both future social media misinformation narratives and real-world events.”
A single applicant will receive an award ranging from $400,000 to $500,000 to develop “a forecasting model that aims to identify potential misinformation on vaccines and how it will affect people as it spreads on social media,” according to Fox News.
The grant opportunity, announced in October, is part of the “Immunization Research, Demonstration, Public Information and Education Training and Clinical Skills Improvement Projects” funding category.
The funding comes amid ongoing lawsuits challenging other federal government attempts to fight “misinformation” on constitutional grounds.
Public and private actors — including public institutions of higher education, state, city and county governments, independent school districts and nonprofit organizations — are eligible to apply for the funding.
The final grantee will be selected at a March 7, 2023 meeting that will be closed to the public, according to the Federal Register notice, which states:
“The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
Government should not be ‘policing thought crimes’
The new grant opportunity captured the attention of media outlets, lawmakers and analysts.
“The grant runs through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has a history of efforts to combat misinformation,” Fox News reported. “Internal documents obtained by American First Legal in July revealed how the CDC coordinated with Facebook, Twitter and Google to counter online content it deemed to be misinformation.”
Several Biden administration officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, were deposed or will be deposed as part of a lawsuit against the federal government by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri alleging that government officials colluded with Big Tech platforms to censor content critical of COVID-19 vaccines and countermeasures.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), speaking to Fox News about the grant, said the federal government should not be policing “thought crimes:”
“This latest revelation proves the CDC is rolling full steam ahead with their censorship campaign against citizens who speak up. This new scheme to use taxpayer money — intended to further scientific inquiry — to instead stifle researchers and anyone who dares dissent from the Biden administration’s ever-changing COVID narrative is unsurprising and unacceptable.
“The CDC has no business trying to predict future ‘thought crimes’ nor, as they’ve done in the past, leverage their power to collude with big tech companies against the American people.”
“Government agencies have no place in determining what constitutes ‘misinformation,’ particularly in an environment where facts on the ground continue to change.
“As we’ve seen with the COVID vaccines, Moderna’s leadership has now openly admitted that preventing transmission was never an outcome they tested for. Yet the ‘disease of the unvaccinated’ and the assertion that a vaccine would ‘stop the spread’ permeated throughout public health guidance. Who was around to label that ‘misinformation?’”
It remains unclear how the proposed HHS-CDC model will determine what constitutes “misinformation,” but according to JustTheNews, the CDC signaled that “information gleaned from the program will ultimately be used in continuing federal attempts to prebunk and debunk independent research and opinion diverging from approved narratives.”
Social media platforms such as Twitter employ “pre-bunking” as a new strategy to warn the public of purported misinformation before it spreads, earning the praise of media outlets such as NPR, itself engaged in efforts to combat alleged “misinformation.”
Multiple government agencies have ‘misinformation’ initiatives in play
The Missouri v. Biden lawsuit alleges a number of First Amendment violations on the part of the U.S. government, including that federal agencies coerced social media platforms into censoring those who criticized the government’s covid policies.
In 2021, President Biden stated, “They’re killing people,” in reference to social media platforms like Facebook and the “vaccine misinformation” available there, Politico reported in its coverage of the lawsuit.
In July 2021, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and HHS, issued an advisory warning the American public about the “threat of health misinformation” and a Request for Information asking social media platforms to collect data on the “spread and impact of misinformation” and to “prioritize early detection of misinformation ‘super-spreaders’ and repeat offenders” by “impos[ing] clear consequences for accounts that repeatedly violate platform policies.”
A Request for Information and subsequent actions by the Biden administration were part of its National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, first announced during his 2021 State of the Union address, according to the plaintiffs.
Despite Missouri v. Biden lawsuit, federal efforts to combat alleged “misinformation” and “disinformation” continue. According to Fox News:
“Despite the ongoing lawsuit and vocal criticism by members of Congress, Biden’s agencies remain focused on countering disinformation from foreign adversaries attempting to influence U.S. elections and on certain topics, including COVID-19 origins, the deadly Afghanistan withdrawal and more.”
This includes initiatives launched by the surgeon general, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Pentagon to fight online content that they claim constitutes “misinformation” and “disinformation, Fox News reported.