guardian.co.uk

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.

The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

Business as usual.




  1. bobbo, knowledge is power, but power is an illusion says:

    TEAstupid==recognizing that private enterprise must be regulated for the good of all==including those regulated, does not in your insipid view mean government is viewed as “good.” No, it is however regrettably necessary as the worst ills of government are far more acceptable than the common errors of free market enterprise–by orders of magnitude.

    If there was no such thing as government, it wouldn’t take long to form in view of the excesses ALWAYS taken by entrepreneurs looking for the fastest buck possible, always thinking their excesses are a product of their intelligence rather than their criminality.

    You greed and self indulgence groupies are not less pathetic than any other groupie.

    Groupie TEAstupid. Imagine him hiding in your hotel closet?

  2. Ah_Yea says:

    This one’s a real hoot. Talks about Bit O’s incoherent energy policy from the viewpoint of a Liberal that isn’t entirely brain dead.
    http://wwl.com/Garland–Pres–Obama–I-too-am-exhausted-defending/9394854

  3. Ah_Yea says:

    And this is very funny. Talk about the Huffington post’s use of unpaid contributors (who built the site) and how they are STILL unpaid even as Ariana Huffington takes 300 million for their work.
    Typical two faced Liberal.
    http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/17/newspaper-guild-huffington-post-strike/

  4. JimD says:

    I like the Sock Puppet ! But is that a STEEL FIST inside ???

  5. Howard Beale says:

    Alf Doesn’t Want to Pay His Fair Share Dude #s> well just about all of them he is so prolific.

    Yea it cost a lot to put our country back in business after the Republicans were in charge, because of the mess they left we can’t spend on any NEW Social Programs that would be good for the nation.

    Lets look at the Clinton surplus Bush blew on his Wars that we still can’t get out of because of.

    Trying to explain something to you is a tough, uphill battle. Reason cannot be used, hard data is useless as well enjoy your dream world you love to hate. I guess its a life not one I’d want. I pity you.

  6. chris says:

    #38

    “Obama invested billions of taxpayer money in G. Soros’ oil venture in Brazil … His shutting down US production has greatly enriched that investment, while impoverishing oil workers and the country as a whole.”

    Obama was responding to political pressure in wake of the largest non-land spill in history. His judgment was also informed by Hurricane Katrina and its effect on Bush II. It has nothing to do with Soros.

    #39

    I think it misses the point to say government is this or that. Government is going to perform in different ways based on how it is run.

    I always think the same thing about people saying that an organization is becoming “more corporate.” This seems to be code for ‘an asshole manager who has little knowledge and less inclination to learn’.

    You need to move past labels.

  7. Glenn E. says:

    This is nothing new. It’s also been called “Astroturfing”. Look it up on Wikipedia. It’s how corporations in America get certain politicians and Presidents elected to office. And convince the public that legislation their Congress voted for, was in response to public demand. A huge phonied up “public” that is. Some claim that the Tea Party is mostly an Astroturfing scheme. “Sock Puppets” is to kind a term. How about e-Scabs?

  8. Glenn E. says:

    This news about the US Military invading the social networks, strikes me as being very naive, at the very least. And a down right cover-up, at worst. That’s because the Military Industrial Complex has technically invaded our “social network” for decades. In the form of our Movies and Television shows. Dictating, steering, and censoring, their scripts. To reflect and promote whatever views the Military wishes. It was all spelled out in David L. Robb’s book “Operation Hollywood”.

    Worse case example, John Wayne’s “The Green Beret”, pro-Vietnam War movie. But not the only case of the military manipulating what a movie is all about, concerning itself. Like the blatantly pro-militaristic Michael Bey “Transformers” movies. And there are also others, that have little to do with any War, that gets the Pentagon’s going over.

    And there seem to be no shortage of pro-military Tv series. When one finally ends, like “JAG” (which survived on three networks!), another soon takes its place, like “The Unit”. And then of course there is the military version of “CSI”, called “NCIS” and “NCIS LA”. The first of which has probably been kept going on CBS, far longer than its ratings would justify. But I’m sure it serves the US Military’s propaganda and recruitment needs, just fine. So it stays on, and on, and on, and on. More a PR thing, than pro-War.

    So the latest wrinkle is that the US Military has discovered some value to the Internet’s social network, and is now manipulating that too. SURPRISE!! Your tax money at work, LYING TO YOU, to further some elitists’ careers, and keep the Military Budget Billions flowing strong. Oh yeah, and keep the kids enlisting. Gotta have that cheap disposable labor force.

  9. Glenn E. says:

    ‘The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.’

    So they can’t be taken somewhere and waterboarded, as Dick Cheney prefers interrogations be performed.

    It’s claimed it won’t be done in English. To avoid unduly influencing American or Allied social media. Yeah, right. Until that too becomes “necessary” to thwart terrorism.

    ‘Centcom confirmed that the $2.76m contract was awarded to Ntrepid, a newly formed corporation registered in Los Angeles. Nobody was available for comment at Ntrepid.’

    Ntrepid is probably just all the executives and brain trusts that bailed out of HBGary Federal last month. Why a “new formed corporation”? Isn’t that a bit of a security risk, dealing with an unknown entity? Unless their personnel IS already known to Pentagon brass. Can you say Conflict of Interest? I can.

    ‘OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalization programme. In evidence to the US Senate’s armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to “counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard”. He said the US military’s objective was to be “first with the truth”.’

    Since when did the US military’s job become countering “radicalization”? Or even
    “terrorism”, for that matter. That’s rich, a military organization countering terrorism, they’re not directly responsible for causing themselves. And “radicalization” is a political distinction. Not everyone in the world might agree with what the US Army broadly classifies, as their culture or belief system being. When and how did the US Military get its purpose (job) changed to policing and manipulating what’s said by other cultures about, ANYTHING?!

    BTW, It just occurred to me that the Voice of America is still in operation. It receives about $206 million a year. And it now heard over the Internet. Not just shortwave. But it’s more a tool of the US State Department. Or some civilian branch of the government, not so much the US Military. So what, the military needs its own propaganda channel? It doesn’t trust the VOA to gets the job done? “Get `er done!”

    Whenever I hear or read something like this article, I have to ask. How is this NOT just like what Nazi Germany would have done, if it had the technology back then. Or the Soviet Union, during the Cold War? About the only thing missing are the Tanks and Rockets on parade, down Mainstreet America. No the US military is a more subtle propagandist.

  10. ® says:

    Fun game: guess which of the regulars on DU are sockpuppets. Subdivide by automated, and automatons.

  11. MikeN says:

    Libya is starting to look like Kosovo redux. War not authorized by Congress. At least this time they have a UN resolution of some sort.

  12. MikeN says:

    Glenn E,
    so you think NCIS is horrible in the ratings, yet CBS decided to make another one called NCIS LA?

    This is logical to you? Or I suppose you think the government made them do it?

    I suppose you would prefer CBS made shows like Rendition or Embedded?


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