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U.S. Military to Manipulate Social Media

New software would be used to sway anti-American sentiments abroad

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The United States Military can now add Facebook trolling to its growing list of endeavors.  As ridiculous as that sounds, according to an exclusive at The Guardian, that’s exactly what is going on.

They report that United States Central Command (CENTCOM) has contracted a newly created California company, Ntrepid, to develop software referred to as  an “online persona management service.”  The contract will add $2.76 million to military spending, which of course is paid for by John Q. Taxpayer.  The program would allow military personnel to control up to 10 separate (fake) online identities per person.  The purpose of these “sock puppets” would be to sway internet posts and discussions in favor of pro-American sentiments.

What, you say?

The contract states that each fake persona must have a convincing background and detailed history so as not to tip anyone off that it is fake.  The contract also sets the number of possible US-based controllers of the identities at 50.  Doing the math, that is 500 fake identities that could do anything from comment on Facebook posts and blogs to Tweeting and so much more.

The Guardian quotes CENTCOM spokesman Commander Bill Speaks as saying, “The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable CENTCOM to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.”  That’s right, foreign language sites.  The program is said to only be available in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, and Pashto.  It is apparently not to be used to influence English speaking audiences.

The new program is part of a larger program known as Operation Earnest Voice (OEV).  The Guardian reports General James Mattis talking about the aim of OEV:

“OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda.” He added that Centcom was working with “our coalition partners” to develop new techniques and tactics the US could use “to counter the adversary in the cyber domain.”

Exactly how scary is this?  Do you think corporations and marketers could try to duplicate this model in the future?  Could this actually work in turning some anti-American sentiments the other way?
Let us know what you think.

U.S. Military to Manipulate Social Media
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  • m4dhasher

    And yet I ask, is not an alien force ALREADY among us?

  • bc

    That’s the net, can’t trust the results of any on vote, poll or posts as someone always figures a way to game the system. I’m sure some fanatic or tech junkie is already managing many more puppets than this already.

  • http://karras-bommer.blogspot.com Karras Bommer

    It is articles such as this that undermine our trust in the media, even now in cyberspace. Perhaps, as in real life, trust must be earned and that takes time. Maybe news like this will make us all more selective as to who we believe. And maybe that’s not so bad.

  • Jenny Berg

    They already use it, how come nobody talks about the Bush legacy? Look at big pharma using social media to tell me people “ask your doctor” if you yawn in the morning, walk slow, eat fast, sleep more than 8 hours, you need this or that. Social media used to create speculation so ignorant people put all their savings in the stock market, and if stock goes down, you stock decreases ( but your money does not, at least not for the ones who create this huge Ponzi scheme called stock market. No matter how much they think they can fool people, now is harder to convince people, the only ones that believe this really works is the suckers who create those fake profiles, what really works for them, is the money they get from the taxpayer or consumer. If you get an education or read, you will never fall for this kind of deceiving practice.

  • http://www.technicolorgoldfish.net Suzanne

    Wow, very shady. We all know unscrupulous businesses already do this but the US government? That sets a bad example.

  • Roe

    People need to just chillax. Why would we question this? The military is working hard on new innovative technologies and models every day to keep you and me safe from our enemies. Frankly, if they have to create an intricate web of lies to save one life, I’m all for it.

    (Is this what those types of comments and exchanges will sound like?)