This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
A cyber expert who formerly worked for the U.S. State Department is warning that a scheme outlined in a Stanford University journal regarding "ratings" for news sources could be a digital reboot on the CIA's MK-ULTRA, a psychedelic mind-control experiment conducted during the Cold War.
An investigative report from Just the News explains the new Journal of Online Trust and Safety has examined a study from researchers in the U.S. and Italy.
And its point is that "you don't even need fact-checkers to fact-check the story," according to Mike Benz, a former State official who now leads the Foundation for Freedom Online, a watchdog.
Back in the day, in what was known as Project MK-ULTRA, on which WND has reported multiple times, the CIA experimented on people with procedures and drugs, including LSD, that would weaken them and force confessions through brainwashing and psychological torture, sensory deprivation, isolation, electroshock and more.
The program ran from 1953 through 1973 and was revealed to the public through various congressional investigations, including the 1975 Church Committee. Many of the details, however, remain obscured since then-CIA chief Richard Helms ordered all MK-ULTRA files be destroyed.
Benz explained the new ideology is that social media platforms simply could apply a "scarlet letter" to disfavored news sources, creating fraud in the public.
The report noted Benz has been in discussions with House Appropriations Committee staff members to restrict federal funding for such operations.
Study coauthor Gordon Pennycook, of Cornell, condemned the comparison.
"Our research shows that trustworthiness ratings have a psychological impact. Nothing about what we find necessitates a particular source for such ratings," Pennycook wrote in an email to Just the News. "Nor does it necessitate a particular way of implementing [sic] such ratings."
He said there's a gap between "people use the ratings if you provide them" and "mind control."
The journal is a product of the Stanford Internet Observatory, which is a leader in the Election Integrity Partnership that chose what it wanted to describe as "election misinformation" and then complained to Big Tech about it.
Further, it tried to censor reports about the issue of COVID-19.
The editors of the journal claim they want to see "how people abuse the internet to cause real human harm, often using products the way they are designed to work."
Their initial focus was on "hate speech" about the Chinese government's involvement in the origin and spread of COVID-19.
"The trustworthiness-ratings study was published in the most recent issue of the journal, in April, but appears to have drawn little attention, with its ResearchGate page only tracking two citations. Its only mention on X, formerly Twitter, is an April 27 thread with 22 shares by lead author Tatiana Celadin of Ca’Foscary University," Just the News reported.
The study authors found "fact-checking" reports is how they "fight misinformation," but that process cannot keep pace with the Web.
The study said news can be labeled false, but by that time it's been ready potentially by millions.
Just the News explained in the study, researchers "asked about 1,600 U.S.-based participants provided by online survey company Lucid what kinds of content they consider sharing, such as political and sports news, and what social media they use, then randomly assigned them to three conditions."
Study participants were asked about their likelihood of sharing various headlines.
And it found participants were more willing to share "true" headlines, based on ratings.
The study said, Benz noted, that "exposure to even small amounts of misinformation … can increase beliefs even for extremely implausible political claims, and COVID-19 misinformation can reduce vaccination intentions."
The goal of the study appears to be to create censorship for anything that comes from some news sources by giving them a low rating.