Looks like the Pentagon got caught red handed. Social media companies banned hundreds of pentagon accounts after they were caught engaging in military psyops. In response, the Pentagon has said it will investigate itself.
The Pentagon has been caught running a social media psy-op with over 150 fake accounts. The accounts have been banned, but the damage has already been done. The fake accounts were used to spread disinformation and sow discord around the world. This is a disgraceful attempt to manipulate public opinion, and now it just got exposed.
According to MSN. As a result of social media companies identifying and removing fake accounts run by the U.S. military in violation of the platforms’ rules, the Pentagon has ordered a sweeping audit of clandestine information warfare.
The news was so bad that even the leftwing outlet REBEL HQ covered it.
Last week, Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, instructed military commands involved in psychological operations online to provide a comprehensive account of their activities by next month. According to several officials familiar with the matter, the White House and several federal agencies expressed mounting concerns about the Defense Department’s attempts to manipulate audiences overseas.
In recent years, Twitter and Facebook have taken down more than 150 bogus personas and media sites created in the United States, according to internet researchers Graphika and Stanford Internet Observatory.
Although the researchers did not attribute the sham accounts to the U.S. military, two officials familiar with the matter say the Central Command’s activities are being scrutinized.
Researchers did not specify when the takedowns occurred, but those familiar with the matter said they occurred within the past two or three years.
In a statement, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the military’s information operations “support our national security priorities” and must comply with relevant laws and policies. “We are committed to enforcing those safeguards,” he said.
Twitter and Facebook declined to comment.
The Verge Reports. According to Graphika and Stanford, clandestine activity had little impact. Approximately 90% of the posts and tweets reviewed received only a handful of likes and retweets, and only 19% had more than 1,000 followers. The report pointed out that “the two most-followed assets in Twitter’s data were overt accounts that declared a connection to the U.S. military.”
Clandestine influence operations have a role in support of military operations, but it should be a narrow one with “intrusive oversight” by military and civilian leadership, said Michael Lumpkin, a former senior Pentagon official handling information operations policy and a former head of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. “Otherwise, we risk making more enemies than friends.”
This is a huge embarrassment for the Pentagon and raises serious questions about how well the U.S. military is following social media platform rules. It’s also alarming that these activities are happening without public scrutiny, and suggests that the U.S. government is far more engaged in information warfare than we knew. Good thing they’re investigating themselves.