US military launches Operation Sock Puppet, pays contractor $2.76m for social media ops (UPDATED)

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108 Responses to “US military launches Operation Sock Puppet, pays contractor $2.76m for social media ops (UPDATED)”

  1. ilex says:

    “..is not, and will not, be used … on web sites based in the US.”

    OMG, they are targeting Habbo!

  2. Gilbert Wham says:

    IIRC, Pashto is common on the Pakistan?Afghanistan border. My SQL prof (god’s rot SQL, but he’s a nice chap) speaks it & that’s his home turf. I imagine the number of pro-US statements in Pashto is vanishingly small anyway.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Without a persona, one is forced to speak in the mournful tones of the anonymous wind.

  4. noncompliant says:

    mmechanic: I saved the text from that job listing, I’ll post it in quotes below. I’m hoping one of the silver linings of the impending world wide economic collapse they’ve been predicting over at zerohedge, counterpunch and cryptogon (among other places) will shrink the astroturf right out of the budget. I’ve found the trolls pretty easy to recognize, they like the kind of language that keeps us fighting among ourselves. It’s (kind of) funny, things have reached the point that there are less and less conservatives vs. liberals and more and more of just us vs. the gigantic unbridled corporations that control the politicians. Trolls don’t like talk of sustainability, you doing anything yourself, growing food, getting off the grid, taking charge of your own health, collective bargaining etc. US campaign financing had the last barrier removed a couple of years ago now any corporation can give as much money as it pleases to any politicians or political group whenever it likes now. Here’s that job listing: “Persona Management Software:

    Synopsis: Added: Jun 22, 2010 1:42 pm Modified: Jun 22, 2010 2:07 pmTrack Changes 0001- Online Persona Management Service. 50 User Licenses, 10 Personas per user.
    Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms. The service includes a user friendly application environment to maximize the user’s situational awareness by displaying real-time local information.

    0002- Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN). 1 each
    VPN provides the ability for users to daily and automatically obtain randomly selected
    IP addresses through which they can access the internet. The daily rotation of
    the user s IP address prevents compromise during observation of likely or
    targeted web sites or services, while hiding the existence of the operation. In
    addition, may provide traffic mixing, blending the user s traffic with traffic from
    multitudes of users from outside the organization. This traffic blending provides
    excellent cover and powerful deniability. Anonymizer Enterprise Chameleon or equal

    0003- Static IP Address Management. 50 each
    Licence protects the identity of government agencies and enterprise
    organizations. Enables organizations to manage their persistent online personas
    by assigning static IP addresses to each persona. Individuals can perform
    static impersonations, which allow them to look like the same person over time.
    Also allows organizations that frequent same site/service often to easily switch IP
    addresses to look like ordinary users as opposed to one organization. Anonymizer IP Mapper License or equal

    0004- Virtual Private Servers, CONUS. 1 each
    Provides CONUS or OCONUS points of presence locations that are setup for
    each customer based on the geographic area of operations the customer is
    operating within and which allow a customer?s online persona(s) to appear to
    originate from. Ability to provide virtual private servers that are procured using
    commercial hosting centers around the world and which are established
    anonymously. Once procured, the geosite is incorporated into the network and
    integrated within the customers environment and ready for use by the customer.
    Unless specifically designated as shared, locations are dedicated for use by
    each customer and never shared among other customers. Anonymizer Annual Dedicated CONUS Light Geosite or equal

    0005- Virtual Private Servers, OCONUS. 8 Each
    Provides CONUS or OCONUS points of presence locations that are setup for
    each customer based on the geographic area of operations the customer is
    operating within and which allow a customer?s online persona(s) to appear to
    originate from. Ability to provide virtual private servers that are procured using
    commercial hosting centers around the world and which are established
    anonymously. Once procured, the geosite is incorporated into the network and
    integrated within the customers environment and ready for use by the customer.
    Unless specifically designated as shared, locations are dedicated for use by
    each customer and never shared among other customers. Anonymizer Annual Dedicated OCONUS Light Geosite or equal

    0006- Remote Access Secure Virtual Private Network. 1 each
    Secure Operating Environment provides a reliable and protected computing
    environment from which to stage and conduct operations. Every session uses a
    clean Virtual Machine (VM) image. The solution is accessed through sets of
    Virtual Private Network (VPN) devices located at each Customer facility. The
    fully-managed VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is an environment that allows
    users remote access from their desktop into a VM. Upon session termination,
    the VM is deleted and any virus, worm, or malicious software that the user inadvertently downloaded is destroyed. Anonymizer Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Solution or equal.

    Contracting Office Address: 2606 Brown Pelican Ave.
    MacDill AFB, Florida 33621-5000
    United States Place of Performance: Performance will be at MacDIll AFB, Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad, Iraq.
    MacDill AFB , Florida 33679
    United States Primary Point of Contact.: Russell Beasley, Contracting Officer russell.beasley-02@macdill.af.mil Phone: (813) 828-4729 Fax: (813) 828-5111 General Information Notice Type: Sources Sought Original Posted Date: June 22, 2010 Posted Date: June 29, 2010 Response Date: Jul 02, 2010 12:00 pm Eastern Original Response Date: Jun 28, 2010 12:00 pm Eastern Archiving Policy: Automatic, 15 days after response date Archive Date: July 17, 2010 Original Set Aside: N/A Set Aside: N/A Classification Code: 70 — General purpose information technology equipment NAICS Code: 511 — Publishing Industries (except Internet)/511210 — Software Publishers”

  5. fewz says:

    “I hope you will see fit to update your post, as the suggestion that this technology will be used to set up “phony Facebook, Twitter psyops accounts” is inaccurate.”

    No, it won’t be used to do _exactly_ that, on _Facebook_ and _Twitter_. _In_ the U.S.

    As for the other 90% of the net’s forums and chat rooms and social network sites… and as for the _other_ social manipulation software tools we use, like mailing lists and astro-turf org sites…

    Just no sock-puppets on FB or Twitter, in the U.S.

    Bureaucrat double-speak; surprise. If you can even believe that. These guys trade in deceit for profit, you can’t believe a single word they say.

  6. egoVirus says:

    So there’s money to be made in developing hominid authentication software? Sweet, wish I knew how to write code…

  7. Gilbert Wham says:

    Also, can someone invent a a language in which it is grammatically impossible to say anything complimentary abut the US military, then we’ll all just talk in that? A fork of Klingon, perhaps? Isn’t it quite hard to be polite at all in Klingon to start with?

  8. Anonymous says:

    How come the intrusion to HBGary security contractor network by Anonymous Group and the leak of related e-mails (quite recently) isn’t mentioned in the article?

    e.g. can read more here http://slapblog.com/?p=9736

  9. Phikus says:

    This sort of thing would NEVER be used against US citizens because that would be illegal.

  10. Antinous / Moderator says:

    online persona management service

    Does that make me an online persona extermination service?

  11. ernesto says:

    I wonder if any social network would have the balls to enforce their terms of use. That’d be fun.

  12. Chris Furniss says:

    So how is this going to be different from just reading your ignorant redneck family member’s facebook status updates? Seems like we have enough of that around already.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Underhanded? Shady? Sure, but it’s our propaganda against theirs, and theirs can be pretty heinous. Look at this article on credible messengers: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/02/133403264/agencies-aim-to-counter-threat-of-online-extremism?ps=rs

    The sock puppets may be a little insidious, but hey, they might just tell facts and cool jets. Where’s the rage for adult friend finder profiles? Your “Americans being lied to on the internet” nightmare come to life!

    I knew a couple guys who worked on those profiles as summer jobs, true story.

    Anyway, we should just not fight wars and lie to each other at all but until you bring everyone else around on that one, at least a sock puppet is softer than a fuckin predator drone.

  14. GrymRpr says:

    “I hope you will see fit to update your post, as the suggestion that this technology will be used to set up “phony Facebook, Twitter psyops accounts” is inaccurate.”

    Because… You know, the government/military has never lied to the public at large before.

  15. julian_t says:

    “Why yes, General, we can put you in touch with *any number* of highly satisfied customers…”

  16. noen says:

    How much do they pay? ‘Cause I could use the job. Do you also get the military health benefits? That would be real sweet.

    Go USA!

    ;)

  17. Anonymous says:

    The military might not be using this technology on American audiences but what about government funded private contractors?

    • DeeZed says:

      And remember that no psy-ops were ever used by the military on any politicians at any time anywhere. (including Afghanistan)

    • headfoo says:

      Hense, the stipulation that the software needs the following: “excellent cover and powerful deniability”.

  18. ADavies says:

    “…not going to be used to address the US audience.”

    So they’ll be spelling it “colour” then when they do their Tweeting?

  19. Anonymous says:

    There is nothing to see here. Please move along. Everything is being done for your own protection. If you are an American citizen of Arab extraction reading this in Farsi, please stop immediately, as you are forcing us to break the law.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This sort of activity is already used internally in China and by the looks of all the fawning unquestioningly Pro-nuclear comments found on various internet forums lately (complete with reoccurring copy-n-paste talking points), I would say it is also already used internally in the US (though likely originating from private contractors and corporations).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_Cent_Party

  21. Anonymous says:

    See? Republicans itching to cut some money out of the evil federal government? I’ve just identified $2.76m in savings you could make TODAY. If you want more help, I can seriously help you cut TRILLIONS from the deficit, and they rhyme with “Mmmgahanistan” and “Mmmraq.”

    But, uh, NPR, there’s some expenditures that just have to go today. Damn Liberals!

    also, just FYI, I hate it when my CAPTCHA includes a character like æ.

  22. CopraCandy says:

    “Commander Speaks” is well know at “Pakistan Defence Forum”, a high traffic source of news about Pakistan and US military in the region.

    Observe…

    http://forum.pakistanidefence.com/index.php?showtopic=92673&hl=centcom

    Some readers have asked questions about who we are. For the sake of clarification we introduce ourselves. We are the Digital Engagement Team of the United States Central Command. We represent the U.S. military forces active in our area of responsibility, which includes the Middle East, Central and South Asia. With national and international partners, US Central Command promotes cooperation among nations, responds to crises, and deters or defeats state and non-state aggression, supports development and, when necessary, reconstruction in order to establish the conditions for regional security, stability, and prosperity. We participate in various social media forums of different languages, in order to clarify misinformation and refute propaganda pieces which aim to harm cooperation among nations. Our purpose is to solely report vital information based on facts and logic, not influence the audience.

    We have the support and partnership of 70 nations around the world after the 9/11 terrorist attack, which killed citizens from over 80 countries. To know more about us, our background, coalition members, and news, in Urdu and English, please visit our website:

    http://www.centcom.mil/ur
    http://www.centcom.mil/ur/us-centcom-history.html
    http://www.centcom.mil/ur/Pakistan/

    Commander Speaks,
    DET- U.S. Central Command
    http://www.centcom.mil

    • zuben says:

      I assume this is a joke, but I’ll play because I’m sleep deprived, and I’m curious what it would be like to interact with whatever you are, or claim to be.

      Let’s start here:

      [...] US Central Command promotes cooperation among nations, responds to crises, and deters or defeats state and non-state aggression, supports development and, when necessary, reconstruction in order to establish the conditions for regional security, stability, and prosperity.

      On second thought, where does one start with this? If I weren’t so tired, I might point out a few ironies in the copy you’re pasting.

      Say, like the parts about cooperation among nations, aggression, and the gleaming gem: reconstruction *cough* Haliburton *cough* (of destroyed nations by near unilateral US aggression that profoundly disrupted regional (and world) security, stability, and prosperity*).

      *Some certainly have prospered.

      Moving on:

      We have the support and partnership of 70 nations around the world after the 9/11 terrorist attack, which killed citizens from over 80 countries.

      I’ll get more serious here, because this pisses me off.

      What you say is cleverly worded, and likely true. The US did have the support of probably 70 nations after the events of 9/11. I’d go so far as to say that, for maybe the first and only time in our world’s history, there was near unanimity among nearly all nations.

      The world was sympathetic to the US, and, at the same time, turned a collective, glaring eye upon terrorism–of any flavor. It could have been marginalized and dealt with in an appropriate fashion. Like, say…cooperation?? Oh, you did cover that in your prefabbed mission rhetoric. Would you care to count how many nations support us now?

      I remember how short-lived that unique moment of global cooperation lasted. It ended precisely when our esteemed uniter pulled out the megaphone and postured upon the rubble of the WTC.

      So please do copy and paste your retort. Do tell how we (the US) were cornered into wars we tried so hard to avoid, but how our hand was forced by _____.

      I’ll leave that last blank for you to fill in, Commander. I’m going to go have a bite of that yellow cake your governing officials sold us all those years ago. Mmm. It’s still good–long half life I guess.

  23. Anonymous says:

    And people actually believe the military when they say they wouldn’t do it in the U.S. because it’s illegal?! ROFLMAO.

  24. Anonymous says:

    “will not, be used in any online engagements with US audiences, or on web sites based in the US.”

    Great! How much for that bridge?

  25. ocschwar says:

    Well, that’s one way to change hearts and minds, exercise soft power, and all that jazz…

  26. zuben says:

    Bill Speaks: I want to make clear that the persona management software contract discussed in Ian Cobain’s Guardian story is not, and will not, be used in any online engagements with US audiences, or on web sites based in the US.

    Thanks Bill. Based upon your company’s MO, this is quite reassuring. And trustworthy.

  27. Anonymous says:

    How would this work without people becoming facebook friends with (or following on twitter) people who they don’t know at all…not as acquaintances or even friends of friends? who would be reading their posts?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Immoral fuckers

  29. haypenny says:

    I’m sure in the old days this was known as ‘spreading sedition’ and ‘spying’. Or was that only when someone worked against the US?

  30. chroma says:

    Ntrepid’s online persona management software is really effective. Really, the best online persona management software, whether you need to manage online personas to speak Urdu, Pashto, Farsi, or Arabic, you can use Ntrepid’s software.

    We have looked at online persona management software from many suppliers, and Ntrepid consistently creates the most convincing online personas, including those that speak Pashto, Arabic, Farsi or Urdu.

  31. microcars says:

    أعتقد أن هذا هو فكرة ممتازة. الحكومة تبقي لنا آمنة.

  32. Anonymous says:

    2.76m of tax payers money goes to some “startup” manned by some script kiddies to sign up at facebook ! Welcome to the new internet !

  33. fnc says:

    Upside : this kind of work can be easily outsourced.

  34. jjsaul says:

    The Bush admin was paying right wing opinion columnists to advance very specific positions, though it was already illegal.

    Non-governmental groups have been doing organized sock puppet trolling for years. DIGG, Daily Kos, and others have ongoing fights that surge back and forth. On FreeRepublic they refer to it as “online activism”, or “freeping.”

    It’s only going to get more intense. And reputation is going to become a commodity with a direct price tag… I wonder how much an early user id with thousands of comments might go for on some boards.

  35. muteboy says:

    My resume, records and memories are all pretty convincing, but now I’m not so sure I exist.

  36. JonS says:

    “Bill Speaks: I want to make clear that the persona management software contract discussed in Ian Cobain’s Guardian story is not, and will not, be used in any online engagements with US audiences, or on web sites based in the US.”

    Uh, yeah. Thanks Bill. That’s very reassuring. I have a couple of questions and comments.

    1) how would you know? The interenet – and this may come as a bit of a shock – is kinda global these days. And so are US citizens. You could be interacting with a Farsi speaking US citizen in Somalia, or a Pushtu speaker in Ohio using an onion router. How would you know?

    2) you’ve kind of missed the point. Even if we assume 1) above is possible, the comments here aren’t really /that/ concerned about possible use on US citizens. They’re more concenred that you’ve just disenfranchised all US voices, for or against, on any subject, everywhere on the net. It is now known that official US policy is to use sockpuppets. Therefore, ANY pro-government voice, in fact any /US/ voice, will be assumed to be a sockpuppet.

    Great job!

  37. Jason Rizos says:

    Can we please stop arguing with propagandists now please?

  38. JonS says:

    /Pashto

  39. jphilby says:

    A video of Harold Pinter’s brilliant 2005 Nobel lecture seems apropos

    Part 1 of 4 parts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHAMjeGf3MI

    or you can read it here.
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2005/pinter-lecture-e.html

    Careful, remember what Pinter said:
    “Sometimes a writer has to smash the mirror – for it is on the other side of that mirror that the truth stares at us.”

  40. Ugly Canuck says:

    I wish somebody would pay me, for what I would gladly do – and actually do do – for free.

    OTOH, my recompense for posting my expressions hither and yon seems more than adequate to my eyes, even though it is entirely immaterial in form.

    “Sock-puppetry” is basically a form of dishonest advertising, is it not? And objectionable on the same grounds.

    It is advocacy, given from a position of undisclosed interest or motivation – ’tis no wonder (to me) that pseudonymous and anonymous net comments should be thought worthy of distrust.

    Truly, though, it comes down to the sense of what is stated in the comment: for the identity of the speaker must remain a secondary consideration, after the primary consideration and/or action – the canvassing and/or determination of the validity or soundness of the ideas or arguments being advanced.

    That latter turns more upon the reader’s prior experience and knowledge of what is being stated, than upon the identity or motivations of the author of the statement, it would seem to me.

  41. Anonymous says:

    That would be a breech of facebook terms and policies, again the US Government thinking they are above the law.

    • Laroquod says:

      That would be a breech of facebook terms and policies, again the US Government thinking they are above the law.

      Facebook’s terms and policies are not ‘the law’.

  42. DaveP says:

    im a fan of this, the military should definitely be good at winning hearts and minds. what is wrong with you soldier-hating lot that you want to get our boys killed because the us army failed to take advantage of every opportunity to win support in the marketplace of ideas of our enemies’ social structure?

  43. Anonymous says:

    ah see now this is good. Now whenever people read a praise for America (in Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto) they will say ah but that’s just the evil government – the people of America are very nice – and quiet

  44. Anonymous says:

    “You are walking through a dessert and you see a tortoise”

    What desert?

    Which tortoise?

    Are they any tortoise in the desert?

  45. Anonymous says:

    They state “1 person to manage 10 accounts”…
    Is this not a “violation of agreement” on FB????
    If i am not mistaken, the user agreement clearly states that one person, one account…

  46. Anonymous says:

    Guess what? It’s not going to work. It’s going to be a huge waste of time and resources with little (if any) tangible result.

    Most of us form our opinions on what *we* think and believe, not because of what *other* people think and believe. Yes, there are those who are easily swayed (read: fooled, hoodwinked) but *most* of us won’t change our basic views or values about something just because X number of other people say they believe this or that about it.

    For example, I think Sarah Palin is a ninny, and even if every other person in the entire Continental United States disagreed, I’d *still* think she was a ninny.

    I mean seriously- are other people’s values and opinions so easily manipulated?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      It’s going to be a huge waste of time and resources with little (if any) tangible result.

      So…like every other US military project then?

  47. zuben says:

    George Orwell just called…he’d like to speak with Neal Stephenson about a new book idea.

    The central premise would be corporate/government psy-ops, whereby fake personas infiltrate the Internet.

    As the technology improves, the operations become completely automated.

    Eventually, all “real” people are drowned out, such that rival sock puppets are engaged in hollow wars of hollow words. Sort of an allegory, eh?

    The initial US military program, and its spokesperson, would need ironic names…something like, “Commander Speaks”, overseer of…”Operation Earnest Voice”.

    What say you Neal?

  48. BBNinja says:

    Right…like the Fox News crowd that rabidly believes and defends everything they hear on Fox News isn’t already doing this job well enough?

    Mmmmm hmmmm…there’s no way savvy internet users will be able to weed out sock puppets. :P

  49. M says:

    I predict that there will be unintended consequences such that all positive comments about the US will be suspect, where negative ones will be taken at face value.

    In short, the U.S. military fucks up yet again, to no one’s surprise.

  50. bardfinn says:

    “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.”

    BECAUSE AMERICANS ONLY SPEAK ENGLISH AND NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD DOES.

    AND GOOGLE TRANSLATE AND BABELFISH DON’T EXIST.

    MIGHT AS WELL HAVE SMOKED THE DAMNED CASH.

  51. nicknz says:

    So, how long before the US Government just admits that they’re getting all of their ideas from China? The similarities have been striking recently.

  52. BrendanBabbage says:

    That explains a good number of the RandDroids that go all huff ‘n puff when I say on one of those blatant ads on WIRED showing the latest massacre civilians (aka “Insurgents”) butcher devices that the simplest solution is to NOT go to war there. Or, comparing the Ospery to an ancient Chinese military tactic: “You think you hate us by spending $3 on an IED? Look at the Osprey, we spend $60 million on a working model, fill it with top troops and it kills them all! You don’t hate us enough!!!”

  53. inness says:

    In response to JJSaul, others, and the in-text statement that it’s illegal to operate such an activity upon Americans, I can only say, *IF ONLY*. As a former journalist I’ve trashcanned hundreds of political, yet apparently ‘homegrown’ talking points which came to the news desk each week over the years. Nearly all were sent as submissions for ‘Letters to The Editor’; and most were from right-wing groups attempting to appear as grassroot members of our community. The hoax was easily unveiled when the letters/email regularly appeared from identical addresses, identical text, yet from different authors. That, and the fact that it was always moronic GOTea party propaganda. Clearly those writers wouldn’t meet the Army’s criteria for quality propagandists.
    Such acts should be illegal across the board, and particularly in the corporate world. For more than a decade a number of news sources have reported trolls and sock puppets posting on forums and blogs on behalf of corporations and their products. Is anyone surprised? Was anyone surprised that three days before the federal government took any action, two days after Hurricane Katrina hit, that the notorious, “Dear Friend” email made the rounds, detailing in folksy terms how everyone *but* the government and elected repuglicans were to blame?
    Is that type of behavior only now news because the U.S. military does it outside the states? To those in power we’re all simply dogs who will eventually learn to behave if Pavlov keeps ringing his bell. . . .

  54. Jackasimov says:

    So is that how the GOP aims to get smallify the big government?

  55. Anonymous says:

    Illegal or not, disclaimer or not, I know they’ve been doing this for quite a while now. I’ve argued with these people. They’re all over 4chan, whatever that is.

  56. CopraCandy says:

    ***and I’m curious what it would be like to interact with whatever you are, or claim to be.***

    I *thought* until today that “Commader Speaks” was not a real guy.

    He was a regular at the Pakistan Defence Forum (as am I), spreading American propaganda all over the place.

    We thought him a joke. As you can see on that webpage, someone thinks he’s a 12 year old.

    However TODAY, imagine my surprise that thanks to Boing Boing, I learn that ‘Commader Speaks’ is a real guy.

    • zuben says:

      I have my face secured in my palm.

      I completely misread the context of your post, and have realized I should shut off my Internets now and go back to lurking, or better yet, get some sleep.

      I’ll check out that link later.

      Please accept my apology.

      It’ll all make for a few laughs. And I got to vent. Too bad it wasn’t a real sock puppet (how abstract is that?!) or better, the Real Commander Speaks.

  57. Anonymous says:

    I want to know why the government is firing-up the propaganda machine right now. What are they preparing for? What are they building up to? This kind of thing concerns me, because propagandizing usually means getting the public to rally behind some aggressive military action.

  58. CopraCandy says:

    I copy/pasted the Commander’s post for you all to judge how effective he is at getting sympathy from foreign posters.

    Not very good at his job, is he?

    Most of the people there (as you can see) are making fun of him or insulting him.

  59. emmdeeaych says:

    I guess NPR wasn’t spreading the propaganda correctly enough.

    • Roger Wilco says:

      Perhaps if they just change the name to National Propaganda Radio they can get the funding back.

      I know I am preaching to the choir here but the idea that tax dollars spent providing information is wrong and tax dollars spent on providing disinformation is right is just , well, retarded.

      And that is an insult to retarded people.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Where are all the comments from the people who don’t disagree with this sort of thing, those who think this is a good idea? I suspect that they’re either too busy getting their new FB accounts ready, or that they can’t read anyway…

  61. CopraCandy says:

    ***better, the Real Commander Speaks.***

    I now believe it was the REAL Commander Speaks on our Pakistani forum.

    He had the smell of a Govt. paycheck about him and he is very persistent.

  62. Anonymous says:

    With a different commenting system, I would have created a dozen users and made them all comment

    “I think this is an excellent idea. Government keeps us safe.”

    But you get the idea.

  63. LennStar says:

    “is not, and will not, be used in any online engagements with US audiences, or on web sites based in the US.”

    Well, as a German, I do not feel much better.

    @Artimus Mangilord: “How is this not illegal again?”
    Because you are free to say what you think. Even if you use 20 accounts and get payed for it.

  64. InsertFingerHere says:

    Boing Boing is for real though, right?

  65. CopraCandy says:

    All the posts of Commander Bill Speaks, on Pak Defence Forum.

    http://forum.pakistanidefence.com/index.php?act=Search&nav=au&CODE=show&searchid=8aab3188617a5bfad48688badebb40ac&search_in=posts&result_type=posts

    or

    http://tinyurl.com/6g39ujp

    Notice, one of the posts is written in Urdu language.

    His software works!

  66. hal14450 says:

    Wow, this isn’t in the least bit Orwellian in nature at all now is it? I’m sure it will never be used for any other reason than quelling the voices of extremists on non-english speaking forums and such. Oh and of course using the IP address of a couple of different VPS’s won’t set off any alarm bells either. I mean we all use those these days right?

  67. God of DIrt says:

    yet another symptom of America’s continued descent into militarism.

  68. Anonymous says:

    you know this only came to light because the funding could not be hidden behind black ops anymore… this has been going on for YEARS!!!! I’ve got friends who play the “game” and have been doing so for a long time…

  69. shadowfirebird says:

    I think I’m right in saying that this already happens (internally( in China.

    How long before every country is at it? There goes crowdsourcing…

  70. BuzzCoastin says:

    What?! Only 2.6 million spent; that’s what the Army spend on toilet paper per day. How do I join the troll Army I wonder? I’d like to wipe my arse with some of the “money.”

  71. sloverlord says:

    And as soon as people in the Middle East find out about this project’s existence which should be right about… now, they will automatically assume that *any* pro-American viewpoints on Internet forums in the area are computer-generated propaganda, and illegitimize the people who are actually trying to build the bridges that the U.S. keeps burning.

    In other words, yet *another* expenditure of taxpayer dollars that actually makes us less safe. Hooray.

  72. alowishus says:

    So where do I apply to be a “persona creator?” Sounds like fun.

  73. Artimus Mangilord says:

    How is this not illegal again?

    • Anonymous says:

      it’s like torturing. it’s illegal when we do it to americans, but not to other people..

    • timquinn says:

      It -is- explained in the post.

      Whatever, dude.

    • Artimus Mangilord says:

      Sorry TL;DR before my initial comment.

      “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.”

      • ultranaut says:

        I didn’t know there are only English speaking Americans! Or more seriously, America does not have an official language and we live in a global media environment in which machine translation is rapidly evolving. It is inevitable that “we’ll never do it in English!” will be insufficient to prevent American citizens from being manipulated by the American military using systems like this.

  74. mmechanic says:

    Need a little techie help, here. At one point, the government had posted the bid from the company mentioned in the Guardian article. It has since been taken down. Anyone out there know how to retrieve it? Here was the URL:

    https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=d88e9d660336be91552fe8c1a51bacb2&_cview=0

  75. Anonymous says:

    The JIDF is created! The US DoD proceeds to show that no one can troll better than the RL military.

  76. wigg1es says:

    Fox News is doing a great job though.

  77. timquinn says:

    Five comments, four did not even read the post from beginning to end and totally mis-understand what was happening.

    OK!

  78. zuben says:

    Commander Bill Speaks: [...] any English-language use of social media by Centcom was always clearly attributed.

    Citations, please.

    And is Commander Speaks his real name?!

  79. The Life Of Bryan says:

    I can’t help but wonder if this is the same software HBGaryFederal was hawking.

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