Military's New Project: Social Media Propaganda

Centcom has put out contract for 'sock puppet' software
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2011 3:41 PM CDT
A soldier looks at Facebook in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

(Newser) – The US military has hired a California company to develop a program that will let it operate a host of bogus social media accounts, in the hopes of covertly influencing online discourse and spreading pro-American propaganda overseas, the Guardian reports. This “online persona management service” would allow each user to wield up to 10 identities—or “sock puppets,” as the cool kids call them—each complete with a convincing personal history and background details.

The contract calls for up to 50 controllers to be able to use the service “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries.” None of the messages posted will be in English, and they won’t target US-based sites like Facebook or Twitter, a Centcom spokesman promised, saying that it would be illegal to “address US audiences” with such technology. Instead, the communications will all be designed “to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.”

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