Moral Outrage
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US spies manipulate Facebook and Twitter and other social media users

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 languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto.

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 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”.

Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of coordinated Facebook messages, blogposts, tweets, retweets, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.

Especially interesting when, last year, a New York lawyer who impersonated a scholar was sentenced to jail after being convicted of “criminal impersonation” and identity theft.

[Full story at The Guardian]

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One Response to “US spies manipulate Facebook and Twitter and other social media users”

  1. […] Command (USCYBERCOM) reported reaching initial operational capability, and news stories abound of US soldiers undergoing basic cyber training, which all point to the idea that traditional super powers are starting to explore this arena. […]


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