Does The Government Manipulate Social Media? → Washingtons Blog
Does The Government Manipulate Social Media? - Washingtons Blog

Friday, January 9, 2009

Does The Government Manipulate Social Media?


The U.S. government long ago announced its intention to "fight the net".

As revealed by an official Pentagon report signed by Rumsfeld called "Information Operations Roadmap":

The roadmap [contains an] acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans.

"Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience," it reads.

"Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public," it goes on.***

"Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system".
Indeed, the Pentagon publicly announced years ago that it was considering using "black propaganda" - in other words, knowing lies.

CENTCOM announced in 2008 that a team of employees would be "[engaging] bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as bloggers who are posting incomplete information."

The Air Force is now also engaging bloggers. Indeed, an Air Force spokesman said:

"We obviously have many more concerns regarding cyberspace than a typical Social Media user," Capt. Faggard says. "I am concerned with how insurgents or potential enemies can use Social Media to their advantage. It's our role to provide a clear and accurate, completely truthful and transparent picture for any audience."

In other words, the government is targeting "social media", including popular user-ranked news sites.

In addition, when you look at what the Israeli lobby has done with Megaphone software to automatically vote stories questioning Israel down and to send pro-Israel letters to politicians and media (see this, this, this, this and this), you can start to see how the U.S. military - an even larger and better-funded organization - could substantially influence voting on social news sites with very little effort.

Moreover,the military has outsourced many projects to private contractors. For example, in Iraq, much of the fighting has been outsourced to Blackwater. And governmental intelligence functions have largely been outsourced to private companies.

It is therefore not impossible that the government is hiring cheap labor to downvote stories on the social media sites which question the government, and to postpro-government comments.

Finally, under the post-9/11 "homeland security" laws, the government almost certainl routinely demands full access to ISPs and websites. In other words, we've all seen polls at Digg, Reddit, YouTube, and mainstream news sites suddenly disappear entirely if a sufficiently pro-government sentiment was not expressed.

Do you doubt that the military and homeland security apparatus would step in to take control of what it considered an "enemy" message? And remember, the government considers any message questioning anything the government does as an enemy message. See this, this, this and this.

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