The problem with sock puppets

Source: Daily Times Pakistan

When the Pentagon taps the best of our multi-lingual talent pool and tasks them with manipulating software sock puppets, it smacks of monumental stupidity. It is an adult daycare software programme and who knows which individuals will end up in their playpen

The Guardian ran a piece on the development of a US military programme that will manipulate social media through the fielding of multiple false personae (called ‘sock puppets’) to counter radical ideology online (March 17, 2011, ‘Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media’). At the risk of having my national defence ribbon ripped right off my uniform, I will share my thoughts regarding this controversial issue.

This may just be the latest in low-level intelligence programmes where the IP tracks back to a mound of dirt in Kansas. Undoubtedly, those who defend the programme point to the precedence of the lower tech propaganda operations of the 20th century; aircraft littered the landscape of nations at war with tens of thousands of leaflets and Radio Free Europe (RFE) was set up as a political counterweight against the spread of Communism. Regarding propaganda mounted by an American citizen, military veterans of the Vietnam era remember ‘Hanoi Jane’. This citizen activist merchandised her Hollywood image to propel her anti-war message. A tongue-in-cheek memorial was on display several years ago at an outdoor event for military veterans — a ‘memorial urinal’ (pot-o-john) that sported her name. The smell she put into the nostrils of POWs remains to this day.

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Categories: Americas

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