US Military Will Secretly Manipulate Social Media

A corporation in California has been awarded just such a contract from United States Central Command (Centcom). They will develop special software and scripts that will enable every allowed US Military Servicemen to control nearly a dozen separate identities based throughout the world.

Web experts criticize this "online persona management service" will allow the US Military to create fake online conversations and "crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives."

These personas will be very hard to distinguish from a real person even by experts. The contract stipulates, "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..."

The software, of course, is created under the guise that it will be used only for counter-intelligence and anti-terrorism purposes. Haven't we heard this before--talking about the illegal AT&T wiretaps, of which still occur on US citizens, but that's another conversation. General Mattis said, "OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda."

Interestingly enough, this could violate the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act of 1981, which states, "a person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person's prejudice".

I'm sure this software isn't allowing anything completely new or isn't somehow already done in intelligence circles, but it probably adds a level of ease unseen before, and this ease of spreading propaganda and manipulation is what concerns me.

source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

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