US spy operation that manipulates social media

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  • #1
m k
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Main Question or Discussion Point

US spy operation that manipulates social media

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.

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

What are the countermeasures?
(assuming that the current ones are not enough)
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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This makes me quite nervous, but compared to activities like killing Iraqi civilians, it's not as harmful.

It's worth noting that these will not (officially anyway) be used on US sites.
 
  • #3
m k
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compared to activities like killing Iraqi civilians, it's not as harmful.
Until it gets one pack killing another pack.
 
  • #4


Welcome to Pys-Ops.

There is some irony in the thread title that is not lost on anyone I hope.
 
  • #5
Amp1


I've thought that was a distinct possibility for some many, many moons.
 
  • #7
BobG
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Things like this have been happening for years in one form or another, but conducted by private citizens.

You should have tried googling for information on Judge George Greer during the Terry Schiavo fiasco. Probably 99% of the first 10 pages were links to Judge Greer hate sites that were just duplicates of each other.

Google had to tweak their search algorithms to lessen the impact of that sort of effort, but "jammers" still manage to dirty up search pages at least a little.

Personally, I think "jamming" social networking sites is a poor use of resources. A more effective effort would be to track and identify certain users so they can be monitored and apprehended. (De-anonymizing social network users by using browser history to determine group membership)
 
  • #8
jhae2.718
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I've always thought that the spooks must love these social networking sites.
 
  • #9
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This makes me quite nervous, but compared to activities like killing Iraqi civilians, it's not as harmful.

It's worth noting that these will not (officially anyway) be used on US sites.
what exactly do you think the social media manipulation is intended to facilitate?
 
  • #10
Amp1


Let me take a wild guess...could public opinion be manipulated via social media?
 
  • #11
Alfi


Let me take a wild guess...could public opinion be manipulated via social media?
My ( I hope to think ) opinion, is not really manipulated via social media.
Since I'm 'public' and I still have my opinion, I think you have to make some backup to that statement before I will agree with it.
 
  • #12


Let me take a wild guess...could public opinion be manipulated via social media?
The largest and most successful "viral marketing" campaign use this:

1.) They succeed, but they're not exactly making converts.
2.) If manipulation of a social network is discovered, anger and distrust follows. See Yelp.com
3.) You can only influence people so much, and usually in the general direction they were headed anyway.

In a battlespace however, convincing an enemy or even your own population of something could be... useful, even sowing doubt. I don't see how this is bound to be more effective than dropping leaflets however. Anyway... a tool is only ever as good or bad as the ends to which it is used.
 
  • #13
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what exactly do you think the social media manipulation is intended to facilitate?
I doubt it's for killing Iraqi citizens. I honestly don't think the military WANTS to kill citizens when they go to war, it's just one of those things that happens. When you send tens of thousands of people somewhere with guns and a license to kill, statistically speaking there is bound to be a few sociopaths in the bunch who go on a killing spree for fun. My cousin who just got out of the army told me of a few guys like that.

So, compared to that level of evil, I'm having trouble getting riled up over this news.
 
  • #14
russ_watters
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You're missing the point. Whether killing civilians is done on purpose or not is irrelevant: it happens and it has a substantial impact on public opinion. The general purpose of the psy-ops (I'm not sure why they call it spying - it isn't) is to increase support for some military goal. That could include downplaying an accidental killing of a civilian (such as the Iraqi reporters that were killed and the video put on Wikileaks) to keep it from damaging the war effort.
 
  • #16
m k
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[edited by mod]

U.S. struggles to counter Taliban propaganda
Quite hopeless, being social media operator and against state level infiltration, if above can be compared.
Partial solution is of cource meetings, photos and so on but analyzing one out using only online stuff feels very theoretical.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #17


[edited by mod]

Back to the topic, I'm still unclear how psy-ops on any group is new, or undesirable.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #18
m k
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Undesirable, both ways?

I think for example PF staff would at least partially disagree, or at least I would in their shoes.
 
  • #19


Undesirable, both ways?

I think for example PF staff would at least partially disagree, or at least I would in their shoes.
It depends on the kind of psy-op you want, and what your goal is. I don't think you can consider any given infiltration or bit of misinformation as being a "psy-op". I also tend to agree with BobG that simple jamming is a waste of resources, although I'd add it can still be useful over 24-36 hours (looking at Egypt for isntance).

The most successful psy-ops have been simple: dropping leaflets in the native language explaining what's happening, or causing some measure of fear through specific targeting mechanisms. One kind of psy-op would be what we've seen in Libya: two cruise missiles dropped directly on the same building in the heart of Ghaddailand (Al Aziziyah). That's not a practical strike, that's meant to be demoralizing, to disrupt C&C, and schisms in the ranks.
 
  • #20
m k
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The goal is effective countermeasures using only available online information.
 
  • #21


The goal is effective countermeasures using only available online information.
Those countermeasures already exist, but there is risk in employing them against your own government, especially if your regime will kill you for trying.

CoTDC has done quite a bit of work in this area for instance.
 
  • #22
Borg
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I had to laugh when I read what the title was referring to. I can picture the military naming the project Sock Puppet. I then started picturing generals at the Pentagon getting their daily Sock Puppet report. :rofl:

But seriously, what is surprising about this? A military or government spreading propaganda to benefit themselves? Or that they're using the latest technology to do it? As nismaratwork stated, simple operations can be very effective. The programming for this isn't that complex for a group of programmers who know what they're doing.
 
  • #23
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i thought it sounded a bit sophomoric myself. so they're not doing this in-house, they're doing what? paying hollywood screenwriters to write up character descriptions? set up some proxies and bookmark a few forums? if you've got an actor juggling 10 different characters, just how much information do you think he can handle? probably not more than one sheet of well-spaced, large-type data sitting on a second screen.
 
  • #24


I had to laugh when I read what the title was referring to. I can picture the military naming the project Sock Puppet. I then started picturing generals at the Pentagon getting their daily Sock Puppet report. :rofl:

But seriously, what is surprising about this? A military or government spreading propaganda to benefit themselves? Or that they're using the latest technology to do it? As nismaratwork stated, simple operations can be very effective. The programming for this isn't that complex for a group of programmers who know what they're doing.
Oddysey Dawn... I can buy Sock Puppet. :rofl:

Hell, I wouldn't be shocked if that was a code-word at some point.
 
  • #25


i thought it sounded a bit sophomoric myself. so they're not doing this in-house, they're doing what? paying hollywood screenwriters to write up character descriptions? set up some proxies and bookmark a few forums? if you've got an actor juggling 10 different characters, just how much information do you think he can handle? probably not more than one sheet of well-spaced, large-type data sitting on a second screen.
Maybe they're working with MS' viral advertisers for Halo? :wink:

Mountain Dew, enriched with love for Uncle Sam! :rofl:
 

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