Tax-funded trollery

It’s a staple of the mudslinging in comment threads at various political blogs, in response to right-wing trolls, to wonder who’s paying them. Now, thanks to an article in today’s Guardian UK, we know at least one of the answers: We are.

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world….

The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

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”.

Three thoughts. First, this report is that the US military is seeking to develop software that would at least partially automate what can easily be done at most any Web site or Facebook or Twitter account by hand. It’s therefore reasonable to assume that the US military (along with how many other government agencies?) is already doing this, just not as efficiently as the new software would allow.

Secondly, the US government is prohibited by law from propagandizing US citizens (insert laugh track here), and since online communities have no international borders, even if they’re based overseas, that’s exactly what these efforts would do. This is not just a breach of online etiquette. It’s a crime.

Third: why, oh why, does it always seem to be a British or other foreign media outlet that first reports these stories? I’m just sayin’…

Comments

  1. 1

    Michael spews:

    using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

    It’s sorta ironic that they’re doing something fundamentally un-American to spread pro-American propaganda.

  2. 2

    Deathfrogg spews:

    It’s sorta ironic that they’re doing something fundamentally un-American to spread pro-American pro-corporatist propaganda.

    FTFY

    The whole movement of the right wing in this country is based on the same precepts that brought Mussolini and Franco and so many other dictators to power in the 20th century. Bush wanted to be such a man, as did Nixon and Coolidge. Corporate ownership of Government, Corporate control of the law and how it was enforced. Corporate control of economic, domestic and foreign policy.

    By Billionaires, for Billionaires, of Billionaires. When one man can afford to control the entire message of a States or the Nations political campaigns from both “sides” of a debate, thats fascism. When you put a dozen, or a hundred such individuals in the same room, and they all agree to agree on how to do so, thats dictatorship. Thats what the teapottiers are all about. Their entire finance structure is based on the Billionaires patronage. Their entire message is anarchy for Billionaires, and total subjugation and iron-fisted force of law for anyone not submitting to their ideals.

    They are not elected, they are not representative of the People, and they are not concerned for the Nation, its welfare, or the rights of its Citizens. Not when they oppose education, or any restriction on how business conducts itself. Not when they openly, and actively oppose any “Government” program or policy that does not directly contribute to the enhancement of their own fortunes and the subsequent increase of their political influence in our legislative bodies.

    Teaparty = Fascism. There is no other word for it.

  3. 3

    Michael spews:

    @2

    It’s sorta ironic that they’re doing something fundamentally un-American to spread pro-American pro-corporatist propaganda.

    Thanks for the correction!

  4. 4

    What rubbish spews:

    This has been going on for quite a while using humans. Why do you think that the number of contractors for “intelligence” went up in the DC area?

    Back in the glory days of “chat rooms,” I pointed out that a certain commentator had a regular schedule and did not post on weekends or holidays.

    Surprised the hell out of me when the regulars on the chat room found 2 or 3 others.

  5. 6

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    …actively oppose any “Government” program or policy that does not directly contribute to the enhancement of their own fortunes…

    That’s pretty much what government people want, whether their elected to office or just employees of government.

    It’s not a government of billionaires, by the billionaires and for the billionaires. It’s a government of the government, by the government and for the government. If that just happens to, occasionally, coincide with someone outside the government, then that’s OK. Just don’t let it happen too often, mister!!

  6. 7

    spews:

    @2 you make the teaparty sound a lot like obama… is obama the leader of the teaparty? wouldn’t suprise me… freaking double agents everywhere. you can trust no one!

    @5 you can’t even trust me. i’m a sock puppet.

  7. 9

    spews:

    8. Right Stuff spews:

    @2

    Your entire post

    Bwaaaahaaahaahaahaa!

    We are coming for you….

    Sincerely,
    B.H.O.

    03/17/2011 at 2:34 pm

    @2…

    …perfect illustration, eh?

  8. 10

    spews:

    @8…

    (shorter rightstuff:)

    My gawd…there’s a knee-grow in the WHITE HOUSE!!!!! Did you guys KNOW that????

    And a JEW donated to NPR!!!! That’s OUT-rageous!!!!

    I hope this guy isn’t getting paid…he sucks.

  9. 11

    Right Stuff spews:

    10. Rujax! spews:

    @8…

    (shorter rightstuff:)

    My gawd…there’s a knee-grow in the WHITE HOUSE!!!!! Did you guys KNOW that????

    And a JEW donated to NPR!!!! That’s OUT-rageous!!!!

    I hope this guy isn’t getting paid…he sucks.

    Wow, and you guys think Puddy is incoherent?

  10. 14

    spews:

    @13 mega fail. methinks rujax develops arguments like the president of idiocracy. did you see that movie? hes all like “you poop face gay! pwned!”

    i think rujax is paid for by the canadian government.

  11. 15

    zzippy spews:

    @2: I would go a step further and call it “geographically borderless” or simply “global” fascism. Large multi-national corporations now control the pentagon to the extent that if a socio-political fire breaks out in a place in which one of the large corporations that run the “U.S.” government has a vested interest, the pentagon will be there in some manner, including, it now seems, on the internet. Examples: Grenada, El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan, soon to be Libya (again), everywhere on the internet, and possibly in the USA itself someday.

    @5: LOL me too

    @6: I already corrected you once on this:
    It’s a government of the multinational corporations, by the multinational corporations and for the multinational corporations.

  12. 23

    NPR keeps getting PWN3D spews:

    @21

    they are democrats, they dont give a damn about election scruples. hell, they probably used to work for King County Elections.

    I wonder how many illegal aliens they signed up…

  13. 24

    spews:

    I wonder how many illegal aliens they signed up…

    Make up a number. Right wingers love to make shit up. Or ask this guy. He signed up many illegals to dress up a pig he wanted to turn a profit on.

    http://www.weissbach.com/

    Used to be on the right wing ray-dee-oh.

    Hypocrisy thy name is right winger.

  14. 26

    Michael spews:

    @23
    Last time the WSRP cried election fraud on Democrats the only fraudulent votes a Republican judge found were cast for the Republican in the case. That joke’s getting old.

    I’m partisan on quite a few things but, when it comes to something like election fraud I don’t care if it’s Democrats or Republicans go after all of them.

  15. 28

    NPR keeps getting PWN3D spews:

    using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.’

    sounds a lot like some of the shenanigans goldy and Dan Thavage have done…..

  16. 29

    Puddybud, identifying Zitz spews:

    What a bunch of bullshit from DeadToad@2. Remember your peeps have been in charge for almost 26 months. This is done on YOUR WATCH fool.

    As always you talk out of your ASS.

  17. 31

    Puddybud, identifying Zitz spews:

    Notice how ylb@24 keeps repeating the same stuff over and over while we who think right bring new left wing loser facts each day!

    Weissbach, Weissbach, Weissbach… ad nauseum and there is no databaze either.

    ————————————
    | REPEAT + | NUMBER |
    | BULLSHIT | FOUND! |
    | FROM YLB | —-14—- |
    ————————————

    1008021 , 1033225 , 889860 , 1004481 , 997418 , 994478 , 994489 , 888876 , 1054080 , 997220 , 889242 , 1007600 , 889241 , 997220

  18. 32

    Puddybud, identifying Zitz spews:

    Doggril,

    You finally admitted to your lips on my ASS.

    Thanks for telling the world.

  19. 33

    Puddybud, identifying Zitz spews:

    right stuff,

    They can’t stand someone identifying leftist moronic acts on a leftist moronic blog!

  20. 34

    spews:

    LMAO @ the idiot @ 31

    Weissbach’s one of yours fool! You’re stuck with him.

    A true cheap labor right wing nutball to go with the upside down fruit cake that is…

    YOU!

    That the TRUTH!

    C’ya dummy!

  21. 35

    Puddybud, identifying Zitz spews:

    LMBBAO at the rerun idiot@34.

    Nothing new under the sun from that fool. Just a repeat a minute laugh out!

    Goodbye to ylb, the Missing Link!

  22. 37

    NPR keeps getting PWN3D spews:

    easy way to solve illegal alien problem: death penalty for anyone who employs illegals…and death penalty to illegals.

    give everyone 60 days to get the fuck out…after that, its get a rope time.

    problem solved in 60 days. end of story.

  23. 38

    spews:

    Nothing new under the sun from the right wing idiots…

    Corrected!

    Cheap Labor, union busting, selling public assets to greedheads for pennies on the dollar, unfathomable hypocrisy.. and nutcake sycophants like Puddybud..

    Same as it ever was!

  24. 39

    NPR keeps getting PWN3D spews:

    @36

    this is what happens when you hire people and give contracts based on race.

    whatever happened to the most qualified gets the job? oh, I forgot – we dont do that anymore.

  25. 42

    Puddybud, identifying Zitz spews:

    Such a rerun ylb is. Such a copier ylb is.

    Nothing new under the sun from that fool. Just a repeat a minute laugh out!

    The original is much better fool!

  26. 43

    Emily spews:

    Didn’t Goldy out a troll 5 or 6 years ago? The guy was a honcho in state Republican circles, and posting troll-y comments was part of his job. He posted mostly from 9 to 5.

    Goldy, I can’t remember the guy’s name. Help me out, please.

  27. 45

    slingshot spews:

    This is fucking outrageously insane.

    It’s enough to make me possibly, almost believe Alex Jones and Michael Rivero.

  28. 48

    spews:

    43 – That was Kevin Carns. Last I heard he was a spokesman of sorts for the Republican caucus in Olympia.

  29. 50

    Puddybud, identifying Zitz spews:

    @44,

    Whatatard. Marvin Stamn was a musician living in CA with some property in WA State. He posted some pictures once.

    Stay stupid Zitz. You know how to do that 1000% of the time.