Sock puppets r us

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This story first surfaced at The Raw Story a few weeks ago but both The Guardian and The Telegraph played it up yesterday as if it's breaking news. From The Guardian report:

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites 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 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.

Does anyone think it isn't already happening?

The Centcom spokesman quoted in this story wants to assure us that their efforts would be restricted to languages other than English because it would be illegal for them to use propaganda on their own citizens. And we all know how scrupulous the American military and intelligence communities are about obeying the law.

Now to watch and see if Ntrepid, the company that won the $2.7 million contract, gets hacked by Anonymous. It wouldn't surprise me a bit. Meanwhile, you might want to take a closer look at that new commenter whose talking points and rhetorical style seem suspiciously familiar.

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3 Comments

This sounds basically the same as the persona management software from HBGary, the company Anonymous hacked last month. I wonder how widespread it really is.

And I believe HBGary bid on this contract though Ntrepid got it.

Interesting.

My main reason for the observation was that the article says other groups may be "encouraged" to develop sockpuppet programs of their own. But if the HBGary files are any indication, these programs are already being marketed to other organizations. So that ship has sailed.

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This page contains a single entry by pogge published on March 18, 2011 9:19 AM.

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