US military creates fake online personasby Christopher Williams, telegraph.co.uk
March 17th 2011
The $2.76m contract was won by Ntrepid, a Californian firm, and called for an "online persona management service" that would enable 50 military spies to manage 10 fake identities each.
The personas should be "replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent", a US Central Command (Centcom) tender document said.
It added: "Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries.
"Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms."
The project would be based at MacDill Air Force base in Florida, The Guardian reported. The contract was first revealed by The Raw Story, a US news website.
It also called for internet traffic from the project to be "mixed" with traffic from outside Centcom to provide "excellent cover and powerful deniability".
A Centcom spokesman however said the fake social media personas would not "address US audiences".
"The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US," said Commander Bill Speaks.
If used against US citizens such "sock-puppetry" techniques, as they are known online, would bring legal fire on the military.
The MoD meanwhile said it could find no evidence that British forces was involved in Operation Earnest Voice, a $200m anti-jihadism psychological operation, of which Centcom's "online persona management service" contract was thought to be part.
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