(Bloomberg) — Fake news and social media posts are such a threat to U.S. security that the Defense Department is launching a project to repel “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks,” as the top Republican in Congress blocks efforts to protect the integrity of elections.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants custom software that can unearth fakes hidden among more than 500,000 stories, photos, video and audio clips. If successful, the system after four years of trials may expand to detect malicious intent and prevent viral fake news from polarizing society.
Little is known about the company, which, unlike most tech startups, has no plans to go public. In 2013, CEO Alex Karp, Palantir’s CEO, explained that “running a company like ours would be very difficult” if it was exposed to the scrutiny that comes with being a public company.
In other words, if the public became aware of what Palantir is doing, the backlash might dwarf the data privacy scandals that have roiled Silicon Valley in recent years.
As of 2013, Palantir’s client list includes the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point and the IRS. Roughly half of the company’s business is with the government. Q-Tel, the CIA’s VC arm, was one of the company’s earliest investors. The company, which doesn’t have an office, uses blockchain technology to protect its tools from sophisticated hackers.