You are hereWashington Post: Spy bloggers not ‘friending’ U.S. targets, Centcom says

Washington Post: Spy bloggers not ‘friending’ U.S. targets, Centcom says


March 2, 2011- The U.S. Central Command says its new “Persona” social media "infiltration" software is designed to cozy up to extremist bloggers overseas, not law-abiding Americans chatting on Facebook or similar sites.

Earlier this month, the Web buzzed with a report that the software was designed to “manage ‘fake people’ on social media sites and create the illusion of consensus on controversial issues,” implying that the Defense Department was targeting critics of the war in Afghanistan and other conflicts.

Further compounding a sinister view of the software was the discovery of e-mails from the head of a company implicated in “dirty tricks” against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a pro-labor organization, which discussed how such technology could be used.

"There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious personas...” wrote Aaron Barr, the chief executive officer of HBGary Federal, a Colorado Springs company whose hacked e-mails revealed plans to attack critics of Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Barr resigned Feb. 28 “to allow the company to move on after an embarrassing data breach,” according to the technology Web site ThreatPost.

Centom's June 22, 2010, contract, offered through the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, specified that “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…while hiding the existence of the operation…and provid(ing) excellent cover and powerful deniability.”

“Individuals can perform static impersonations, which allow them to look like the same person over time,” the contract added. It “also allows organizations that frequent same site/service often to easily switch IP addresses to look like ordinary users as opposed to one organization.”

The fake Internet personas, the contract specified, “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.”

Centcom spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks acknowledged in an interview last week that the Air Force had a contract for the Persona Management Software, but denied it would be deployed against domestic online protesters.

FULL STORY HERE:

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