Do you know all your Facebook friends? Image Source: Berliner Morgenpost.
The deeper we get into virtual reality, the more difficulty we have trusting that world and trusting ourselves. Yet people do. The latest example of how surveillance and artificial intelligence mechanisms are being built around the persistence of online trust is the advent of the US Military's classified social media activities. These activities would never be possible without the creduility of the public at large. Imagine walking at 3 in the morning down an alley in a city notorious for violent crime. Many people do the online equivalent of this all the time, with little or no fear. Perhaps it is the illusion of security in anonymity. Maybe it is the false belief that there is no real connection between the private life and the virtual life. On this fertile ground, new areas of covert existence are growing quickly, with individual citizens willing participants in the mutual exchange between personal avatars and virtual doppelgängers of unknown people and organizations. To me, this rapid proliferation of multiple identities is even more disturbing than the notion that Big Brother is watching us. How can we retain our sanity when the internet positively calls for and reinforces a kind of mass multiple personality disorder in global society? And like I say, the rules for those other personas and for anyone's central, non-internet Real Self are increasingly considered to be ... different. The Millenium is becoming the age of the Shadow Self.
The Raw Story is reporting (Hat tip: @swadeshine) that the US Military is creating fake people to interact with citizens on social networks, discussion boards and forums:
Most people use social media like Facebook and Twitter to share photos of friends and family, chat with friends and strangers about random and amusing diversions, or follow their favorite websites, bands and television shows.But what does the US military use those same networks for? Well, we can't tell you: That's "classified," a CENTCOM spokesman recently informed Raw Story.One use that's confirmed, however, is the manipulation of social media through the use of fake online "personas" managed by the military. Raw Story recently reported that the US Air Force had solicited private sector vendors for something called "persona management software." Such a technology would allow single individuals to command virtual armies of fake, digital "people" across numerous social media portals.These "personas" were to have detailed, fictionalized backgrounds, to make them believable to outside observers, and a sophisticated identity protection service was to back them up, preventing suspicious readers from uncovering the real person behind the account. They even worked out ways to game geolocating services, so these "personas" could be virtually inserted anywhere in the world, providing ostensibly live commentary on real events, even while the operator was not really present.