No country can afford to have “Negative Publicity” and “Adverse Public Opinion” in the Cyberspace. Brand Management Companies are regularly keeping an eye upon the “Reputation” and “Goodwill” of their client companies. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Companies are working hard to get their clients “Listed High” in Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) of Search Engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc.
As per a recent media report, US Military is planning to manipulate social media through the use of fake online “personas” managed by it. 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, fictionalised 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.
A fake virtual army of people could be used to help create the impression of consensus opinion in online comment threads, or manipulate social media to the point where valuable stories are suppressed.
This proposal supports classified social media activities outside the U.S., intended to counter violent extremist ideology and enemy propaganda. The Air Force has even other classified uses for social media. Let us see how things would take shape in the future in this regard.