Is Your New Chat Buddy a CIA Agent? Put Away Your Tinfoil Hat–Your New Online Pal Might Really Be a CIA Agent
So that faceless online buddy of yours, the one who agrees with all your political positions–did it ever occur to you that he or she might be working for the CIA?
It sounds like the kind of thing the true tinfoil hat wearers of internet yore espouse, but there is a growing body of evidence that the agency, the military, and its operatives are infiltrating every corner of the internet by setting up false accounts in order to control conversations about everything from the political process to overseas adventurism to the economy.
According to a report by RT News: “Last year it was confirmed that the US military has been manipulating social media by using fake identities to influence conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.”
They’re calling it “online persona management services,” and it allows the creation of up to ten accounts per serviceman or servicewoman working on the program. They are tasked with creating personas that have complete backgrounds, circles of friends, back stories and histories, such that to all appearances they will seem to be real people.
These so-called “sock puppet” accounts were created after a California corporation was awarded a contract with United States Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.
On sophisticated web news aggregators like Reddit, users have long suspected that drug manufacturers, pro-GMO groups, and other corporations have been running similar operations on threads dealing with those subjects. But for the government to be involved in manipulating and controlling the ideas and conversations of its own people, the people it is sworn to serve and protect? Well, there’s a name for that.
It’s called propaganda.
The project, compared by some web and media experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet, has met with strong criticism, but only from those who have heard of it. It remains under the radar for most people, although critics complain that it allows the US military to create a false consensus in online chats, bury dissenting opinions and discredit reports that don’t go along with the program.
So it is certainly not outside the realm of possibility that their activities will filter back to the US.
There’s an old adage veteran tinfoil hat wearers are bound to know, one we would all do well to keep in mind even today, when it comes to the internet:
Trust no one.