Guardian reports the US military has contracted a Californian company to develop software that will let it manipulate social media sites by using numerous fake identities to counter violent extremist ideology and propaganda and to spread pro-American propaganda. The technology will be used by Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. According to Centom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks, the software will not target any US-based websites, in English or any other language, and he specifically added that it was not targeting Facebook or Twitter.
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".
Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: "The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US."
He said none of the interventions would be in English, as it would be unlawful to "address US audiences" with such technology, and any English-language use of social media by Centcom was always clearly attributed. The languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto.