Reports have recently surfaced revealing a $2.76 million contract awarded to a newly-formed software company by the US military to develop ‘multiple personas’ which advocate pro-American agenda in public forums, press outlets and social media.
At ‘The Raw Story’ (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/22/exclusive-militarys-persona-software-cost-millions-used-for-classified-social-media-activities/) it is revealed how these personas can be deployed to interact with a wide range of real-life participants. The original bidders for this contract included HBGary ‘which conspired with Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce to attack Wikileaks, spy on progressive writers and use malware against progressive organizations’. HBGary was not awarded the contract – but their inclusion in the list of bidders gives us cause for concern. Politically, we could assume the formation of unknown software developers Ntrepid and subsequent final awarding descion to them was to quell public concern over the software’s final intended usage.
The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks) have published a similar report into the US military’s development of this technology. The Guardian has published statements from US officials explaining the technology is meant to “disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda“. A spokesperson from Centcom (the US military company tendering the contract) has confirmed this stance on the technologies usage saying it is designed to “communicate critical messages and to counter the propaganda of our adversaries”.
All these findings call into question the hypocritical approach of the US in its ideals of democracy. Yet again, warfare has distorted truth. We cannot expect to guarantee legitimacy in campaigns of a political nature if there are technologies being used by the US to secure political goals. These technologies are being deployed to interact with us (this is their primary design and purpose) How sinister is that!