Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Military Doppelgaenger on Social Networks

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.
Read the rest of the report here; Raw Story's earlier report on the Air Force's original contract is here.


  1. Something I'd expect from the CIA... :p

    So how could this be used? mass influence in public opinion for voting, funding, etc.

    You know... the weak being led by mob rule...

  2. Being "virtually inserted anywhere in the world?" Fox News does this every day. Just last week one of their commentators tried to portray labor unions supporters in Wisconsin (a frigid northern midwest state) as violent thugs. He ran footage of violent confrontations in a public street somewhere, forgetting to remove the palm trees from the background. Oops!
    My personal favorite was when they ran footage of missiles on a flatbed truck in the spring of 2003, claiming that the "weapons of mass destruction"-- the ostensible, stated reason for the invasion of Iraq-- had been found, leading to a week of bile, insults and name-calling around the clock by their commentators directed at anyone who doubted their existence. That went on until someone matched the footage to its original prints from the 1991 Gulf War, which they apparently thought no one would think to seek. The tip off was that it was common knowledge that Iraq's infrastructure had just recently been devastated. Where was that flatbed truck supposed to be going? Down the street and back? There were no contiguous roads! Of course, all of the local television stations across the country who paid to license that "exclusive Fox footage" weren't getting any refunds.
    What the CIA is doing isn't radically different from promotional agencies hiring freelancers to sit in bars, ride on mass transit or even blog about some new gadget or cosmetic to gain the trust of people who would be more skeptical about straightforward advertising, but would have no reason to suspect a stranger's off hand comments to be anything but an honest opinion.

  3. @pblfsda - I agree that the CIA is employing tactics similar to those used by promotional agencies. We are more inclined to trust identities and info presented to us on social networks, when in fact there are lots of well-published reasons why we should not. But this is not just about the CIA. It's about them tracking other groups using these networks in the same way.

    It's weird that underneath virtual social interactions there is a burgeoning underworld game of cat and mouse between various power groups. Your average person on Facebook, Twitter or Linked In is either the pawn in the game, or the figure who makes any slipped signs of the game seem innocent. You know that old saying, a knife by itself looks menacing - but put your knife with a fork and a spoon and you don't notice it.

  4. F*ck this twisted face of distortion and lies that is our government