Pentagon Seeks to Manipulate Social Media for Propaganda Purposes

George Washington's picture

Washington’s Blog

Wired reported on Friday:

Pentagon is looking to build a tool to sniff out social media
propaganda campaigns and spit some counter-spin right back at it.


On Thursday, Defense Department extreme technology arm Darpa unveiled its Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program. It’s an attempt to get better at both detecting and conducting propaganda campaigns on social media.
SMISC has two goals. First, the program needs to help the military
better understand what’s going on in social media in real time —
particularly in areas where troops are deployed. Second, Darpa wants
SMISC to help the military play the social media propaganda game itself.


is more than just checking the trending topics on Twitter. The Defense
Department wants to deeply grok social media dynamics. So SMISC
algorithms will be aimed at discovering and tracking the “formation,
development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes)” on social media,
according to Darpa’s announcement.


SMISC needs to be
able to seek out “persuasion campaign structures and influence
operations” developing across the social sphere. SMISC is supposed to
quickly flag rumors and emerging themes on social media, figure out
who’s behind it and what. Moreover, Darpa wants SMISC to be able to
actually figure out whether this is a random product of the hivemind or
a propaganda operation by an adversary nation or group.


Of course, SMISC won’t be content to just to hang back and monitor social media trends in strategic locations. It’s about building a better spin machine for Uncle Sam, too. Once SMISC’s latches on to an influence operation being launched, it’s supposed to help out in “countermessaging.”




SMISC is yet another example of how the military is becoming very interested in what’s going on in the social media sphere.

Indeed, as I wrote in February:

I noted in 2009, in an article entitled "Does The Government Manipulate Social Media?":

The U.S. government long ago announced its intention to "fight the net".

As revealed by an official Pentagon report signed by Rumsfeld called "Information Operations Roadmap":

The roadmap [contains an] acknowledgement that information put out as
part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is
finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary


"Information intended for foreign audiences,
including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our
domestic audience," it reads.


"Psyops messages will often be
replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the
American public," it goes on.



should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will
'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system".

Indeed, the Pentagon publicly announced years ago that it was considering using "black propaganda" - in other words, knowing lies.

CENTCOM announced in 2008 that a team of employees would be "[engaging]
bloggers who are posting inaccurate or untrue information, as well as
bloggers who are posting incomplete information."


The Air Force is now also engaging bloggers. Indeed, an Air Force spokesman said:

obviously have many more concerns regarding cyberspace than a typical
Social Media user," Capt. Faggard says. "I am concerned with how
insurgents or potential enemies can use Social Media to their advantage.
It's our role to provide a clear and accurate, completely truthful
and transparent picture for any audience."

In other words, the government is targeting "social media", including popular user-ranked news sites.


addition, when you look at what the Israeli lobby has done with
Megaphone software to automatically vote stories questioning Israel down
and to send pro-Israel letters to politicians and media (see this, this and this),
you can start to see how the U.S. military - an even larger and
better-funded organization - could substantially influence voting on
social news sites with very little effort.


Moreover,the military
has outsourced many projects to private contractors. For example, in
Iraq, much of the fighting has been outsourced to Blackwater. And governmental intelligence functions have largely been outsourced to private companies.

is therefore not impossible that the government is hiring cheap labor
to downvote stories on the social media sites which question the
government, and to post pro-government comments.

(other governments and large companies "astroturf" online as well. See this, this and this.)

I pointed out the same month:

propagandists, their hired private contractors and useful idiots are
creating "downvote bots" or scripts to bury stories which question the




One free, simple scripting program to
create automatic downvotes of certain topics or news posters is
called "Greasemonkey", which is commonly used on large social news
sites such as Reddit.


For example, there are some 2,480 hits [now past 9,000] for the google search greasemonkey downvote. This is some 2,480 times that Reddit users are publicly admitting to using greasemonkey (see also this).


agents obviously aren't going to publicly brag about what they are
doing, and you can bet that their use of downvote bots is much greater.
Moreover, they probably have more sophisticated software than

Today, Raw Story reports that the Air Force ordered software to manage army of fake virtual people:

Internet users would be well advised to ask another question entirely: Are my "friends" even real people?


the continuing saga of data security firm HBGary, a new caveat has
come to light: not only did they plot to help destroy secrets outlet
WikiLeaks and discredit progressive bloggers, they also crafted
detailed proposals for software that manages online "personas,"
allowing a single human to assume the identities of as many fake people
as they'd like.


The revelation was among those
contained in the company's emails, which were dumped onto bittorrent
networks after hackers with cyber protest group "Anonymous" broke into
their systems.


In another document unearthed by "Anonymous," one of HBGary's employees also mentioned gaming geolocation services to make it appear as though selected fake persons were at actual events.


"There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious personas," it said.


Government involvement


Eerie as that may be, more perplexing, however, is a federal contract
from the 6th Contracting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, located
south of Tampa, Florida, that solicits providers of "persona
management software."


While there are certainly legitimate
applications for such software, such as managing multiple "official"
social media accounts from a single input, the more nefarious
potential is clear.


Unfortunately, the Air Force's contract description doesn't help dispel their suspicions either. As the text explains, the
software would require licenses for 50 users with 10 personas each,
for a total of 500. These personas would have to be "replete with
background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are
technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent."


It continues, noting the need for secure virtual private networks that randomize
the operator's Internet protocol (IP) address, making it impossible
to detect that it's a single person orchestrating all these posts
Another entry calls for static IP address management for each
persona, making it appear as though each fake person was consistently
accessing from the same computer each time.


The contract also
sought methods to anonymously establish virtual private servers with
private hosting firms in specific geographic locations. This would
allow that server's "geosite" to be integrated with their social media
profiles, effectively gaming geolocation services.


The Air
Force added that the "place of performance" for the contract would be
at MacDill Air Force Base, along with Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad.
The contract was offered on June 22, 2010.


It was not clear exactly what the Air Force was doing with this software, or even if it had been procured.

Manufacturing consent

many questions remain about how the military would apply such
technology, the reasonable fear should be perfectly clear. "Persona
management software" can be used to manipulate public opinion on key
information, such as news reports. An unlimited number of virtual
"people" could be marshaled by only a few real individuals, empowering
them to create the illusion of consensus.




That's precisely what got DailyKos blogger Happy Rockefeller in a snit:
the potential for military-run armies of fake people manipulating
and, in some cases, even manufacturing the appearance of public


"I don't know about you, but it matters to me what
fellow progressives think," the blogger wrote. "I consider all views.
And if there appears to be a consensus that some reporter isn't
credible, for example, or some candidate for congress in another state
can't be trusted, I won't base my entire judgment on it, but it
carries some weight.


"That's me. I believe there are many
people though who will base their judgment on rumors and mob attacks.
And for those people, a fake mob can be really effective."




"Team Themis" [tasked by the Chamber of Commerce to come up with strategies for responding to progressive bloggers and others] also included a proposal
to use malware hacks against progressive organizations, and the
submission of fake documents in an effort to discredit established


HBGary was also behind a plot by Bank of America to destroy
WikiLeaks' technology platform, other emails revealed. The company was humiliated by members of "Anonymous" after CEO Aaron Barr bragged that he'd "infiltrated" the group.

And see this, this, this, this.


Indeed, as I noted in 2008, the Pentagon is using artificial intelligence programs to try to predict :

As a new article
by investigative reporter Christopher Ketcham reveals, a governmental
unit operating in secret and with no oversight whatsoever is gathering
massive amounts of data on every American and running
artificial intelligence software to predict each American's behavior,
including "what the target will do, where the target will go, who it
will turn to for help".

The same governmental unit is responsible for suspending
the Constitution ... in the event that anything is deemed by the
White House in its sole discretion to constitute a threat to the United
. (this is formally known as implementing "Continuity of Government" plans).




Bear in mind that the Pentagon is also running an AI program to see how people will react to propaganda and to government-inflicted terror. The program is called Sentient World Simulation:

"U.S defense, intel and homeland
security officials are constructing a parallel world, on a computer,
which the agencies will use to test
propaganda messages and military strategies.

Called the Sentient World Simulation, the
program uses AI routines based upon the psychological theories of
Marty Seligman, among others. (Seligman introduced the theory of
'learned helplessness' in the 1960s, after shocking beagles until they
cowered, urinating, on the bottom of their cages.)

Yank a country's water supply. Stage a military coup. SWS will tell you what happens next.

The sim will feature an AR avatar for each person in the real world, based upon data collected about us from government records and the internet."

Postscript: Gaming social media is only one propaganda technique employed by the government:

  • The New York Times discusses in a matter-of-fact way the use of mainstream writers by the CIA to spread messages
  • A 4-part BBC documentary
    called the "Century of the Self" shows that an American - Freud's
    nephew, Edward Bernays - created the modern field of manipulation of
    public perceptions, and the U.S. government has extensively used his
  • The Independent discusses allegations of American propaganda
  • And one of the premier writers on journalism says the U.S. has used widespread propaganda

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Tenma13's picture

Anyone see the recent films 'Battle:LA or 'Transformers 2' I randomly borrowed them for a bit of mindless distraction from my thesis writing, and was amazed at how blatant they were. What I saw was effectively 2 hour long Army commercials detailing the virtues of combat and how US forces always: have civilians best interests in mind, would rather sacrifice themselves than harm innocents and those that criticise are essentially weak and/or crazy. 


Reptil's picture

Two cases of TPTB trying to muffle dissent:
outside of the power structure: indicted for downloading journals

inside of the power structure: offered double salary to STFU


They're tightening the net now. Why?

Gold Dog's picture

Wait just a damned minute here- The Government will LIE to us?

onthesquare's picture

when you view the above site you will see how Edward becomes pompus ass toward or throughout his life. From getting women to smoke for the tobacco companys to being the architect of many presidential successes.

It probably turned him on knowing that he controlled a lot of power in secret.

Brain washing and spin cycle the next step is the dryer.

is this any way to run a mok?

Sathington Willougby's picture


You see the hoardes of shills appear in the comments sections, never before 9 am of course.

They bleat the socialist meme over and over and over and over.

Why?  To set the non working 50% against the working 49% to the benefit of 0.5%.

Lies are lies it doesn't matter how many times you repeat them.

Who really has that much passion for thieves, besides hired blogoons?

It's ironic though that the author would cut and paste about this.  GW often looks hired by the DNC.

CD's picture

For an extensive collection of links, sites, movies on the topic of how this is being done, why and by whom, this is a pretty good starting point: You may want to look up Yuri Bezmenov aka Tomas Schumann for a rarely seen look at how this has been an institutional part of (Co)IntelOps for DECADES (videos in the link above). If it's been taught at the NatSec academies of Mother Russia since the sixties, why WOULDN'T it be in the arsenal of the other major powers? As for DARPA, let's just say that YES, I can positively confirm their intimate involvement in this realm. Heck, it makes absolute sense -- how do you think the interwebz came about in the first place?

Reptil's picture

oh yes, the information battle is full on. and will heat up. (poor Hillary lol)


someone sent me this today.

the title made me expect another good intentioned but void collection of statements.

not so, this one's actually pretty good. a sort of crash course in psy-ops of the last century.

and this is of course excellent (Edward Bernays influence documented by Adam Curtis)

enjoy ;-)

The Alarmist's picture

George, it is very sensationalist to point to the Pentagon's usage of these techniques, but you might also report on Hillary Clinton's Tech Army at State doing pretty much the same thing ... and I am sure, this being govt, that there are probably several other incarnations of this sort of program in other govt agencies.

I don't know if the story is that they are doing this, or that they are doing this six times over in a number of agencies.

And don't forget that they spent $18m on, so one can only imagine how much is being spent on this ... a tech wet dream for those who are connected,.

tony bonn's picture

yes the gestapo state needs to snuff out any resistance and opposition

fuck the military

cara leaf's picture

The Pentagon is giving 4G to soldiers so they can anaesthetize them with 24/7 free pornography like they have with the rest of our population. 

First, sever the familial bonds. Next, promote sex addiction and--thank you, Diane--homosexuality (and while we're on the subject, how did Dick manage to get CBRE that ripper of a deal with all the foreclosures?  If I remember correctly, you weren't even on the banking committee.)

Fact: the more phlegmatic our familial bonds become , the easier we are to manipulate. 

Got it?

FlyPaper's picture

Oh for pete's sake, what a stupid post.  Let's try this: what is 'severing familial bonds' more than divorce?  And pray-tell what this has to do with sex-addiction and gay people?   About as bad as the anti-semetic comments on this site.  Sheesh.

ebworthen's picture


Ah yes, and Louis XVI and Czar Nicholas and Hitler all had armies backing them as well.

The armed services of this country have the support of the populace only so far as they support the rights of the people and the Constitution.

If they fail to do so, I can guarantee them that no number of tanks or drones or units or rifles will protect them from the mob.

Thanks to those who serve honorably, and to all, please remember your vows.


ThoughtCriminal's picture

*** B.S. ***

the Pentagon doesn't burp without some civilian wannabe-tyrant's input ...

Firstly; like it's gonna be really difficult to see the software-generated -usual lies that will be mass produced, propagated, and repeated all over the blogosphere (as already is the case - with "cut-and-paste-seminar" blog blather).

(Did you hear the one about how, after 9-11, a certain government agency decided it was time to upgrade to computers instead of typewriters; spent US$125 + million on a custom system - which didn't work!!!)

Second: find the civilian traitors who are ordering the military to do this highly unethical, illegal, unconstitutional dirty dealing; arrest them put them on trial (in front of  a military tribunal); find out what these traitors' foreign connections are and then try them as agents of hostile foreign powers as well; then send them to GITMO for life.

The Pentagram, er, Pentagon is subordinate to civilian authorities: POTUS (who can do direct orders of extrodinary actions (such as above) in times of DECLARED-BY-CONGRESS-WARTIME situations ONLY or in times of martial law (has martial law been declared, is USA under "state of emergecny" again/still, has the civilian population been deemed "enemies of the state again/still (hmm?)), then via the various civilian heads starting with SECDEF, followed by each military branch civilian head (all of which are authority above any/all military), then via the various top military (Joint Chiefs) with the various megalomanical congress-things sticking their noses into things military now and then.

This means such a highly illegal, unconstitutional, unethical, act was concocted by and is coming from some (likely a very few e.g. surrounding the POTUS, outside organizatioins, etc.) civilian tyrants (extreme paranoid control-freak types), as usual hiding their tyranical  actions behind US military as facade. These civilian traitors know well their actions, such as this, are illegal, so these gutless-wonders (most likely Posion Ivy League types) order the military to do it for them.

BTW: all military are under oath and duty-bound to not violate laws of the land (Constitution and Amendments; as opposed to the bogus other legal systems layered inside the true and only valid laws of the USA), therefore can, must and will out the traitors - as well as disobey any and all unlawful orders -or they will face the consequences when time is right.


essence's picture

Why wouldn't the Pentagon do this, after all they're merely the 'hessians' for the banksters. After the banksters, the 2nd most powerful interest group in the U.S. is the Military Industrial Complex. Actually, I suspect the same ultra wealthy banking families sit on the board of many a fortune 500 company. Therefore it's in their best interest to ensure constant warmongering ... drums up business/good for profits.

The only military man of repute was Marine General Smedley Butler (back in the 1930's).
And heck, it was only after retirement that he saw the light and came clean publicly.

All the more modern military brass are merely cogs in the machine. And that certainly includes Colin Powell who after military service went on to lie his ass off in front of the U.N. security counsel   --- "Yeah... you'all see this sat photo the CIA supplied me....that's an Iraq WMD ... sure as shit. We need to invade".

Way to go Colin ..... how do you manage to live with yourself?





knukles's picture

... defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic....

shanelee's picture

Recently i started a website and purchased about 5,000 Twitter followers from for our Twitter page. buy facebook fans The results were amazing. This makes a big profit for my website and my business starts growing very rapidly.

ThoughtCriminal's picture

"The only military man of repute was Marine General Smedley Butler (back in the 1930's)."

Actually there have been many many more - who have attempted to speak out even while still on active duty (as opposed to waiting until out of uniform).

Like most Americans, you just haven't heard, read, learned about such true heros, because they were all silenced - by any and all means required to shut them up ...

essence's picture

Perhaps in your mind they were heros, but in effect they were incompetent.

The Marine General I mentioned (Smedley Butler) actually went on speaking tours, he wrote a book. Imagine the courage it took to buck the powers that be.

Show me anyone from the modern era.
Nevermind, I'll answer my own question.

I would like to publicly thank  Daniel Ellsberg for his service to America.

For those that don't know ... he was a Marine officer before returning to college earning an advanced degree and going on to be a Rand Corp consultant in the Pentagon ... where he subsequently went on to learn and expose the truth about the Vietnam War.

Thank you Daniel. You are a true patriot.


ThoughtCriminal's picture


Since you prefer conversation with yourself, you do your own searches for the many who did speak out – and as obfuscation-argument and time-wasting idiocy is your main purpose  – I’ll repeat this significant difference between your “heroes” and the real ones: (about whom you're clueless) -they did so * while still in uniform*. That is - they had the balls to speak out whilst still on active duty. That is -2 - they  didn’t wait until they were safely on the outside as your two “competents” did (you do understand what the significance of this is don’t you – never mind I’ll answer for you – because you do not understand; doing so while still serving is instant career death and more).


treasurefish's picture

Brialliant!  Thank you so much for sharing this excellent information!!!  ZeroHedge rocks!!!!

I've been posting the following on Fox News:


URGENT MUST READ:  ZeroHedge has Disqus all figured out.  You know those infamous Libtard trolls like tbagin4jeebus, Dr. Bumpy, and Freeloadinfreddy who always seem to be on this site?  I always thought it was a bunch of people taking turns on a keyboard at the Democrat National Party HQ.  As it turns out, it is a Pentagon program designed to mess with your mind to see how your respond.   That's right!  Think I'm a crazy conspiracy theorist?  Click the link below and read all about Dr. Bumpy!!!!


Keep this alive, and let others know any time a Libtard troll shows up!

Alcoholic Native American's picture

Good find and good work informing FOX news, gotta keep an eye out for trolls.

savagegoose's picture

had to share on facebook

crystalclear's picture

In a strange way I actually find this kind of reassuring. All this time, besides voices on Zerohedge and a handful of other sites, I thought I was alone in seeing the emperor had no clothes and thought I was one of the nuts. Although seriously outnumbered and outgunned, kind of gives one hope they aren't the only sane one with common sense

Mongrel's picture

Don't worry, the US government can't stick its finger up its ass with both hands, a flashlight, and a fuckin' road map.

gwar5's picture

I think this is a clear violation of laws prohibiting US military activity against US citizens on American soil.

It's only a small step from killing Libyans in an illegal war by saying it isn't really violence, to deploying armed drones to hover, photograph, and intimidate US citizens at a political rally because of "suspicious" facebook chatter.

What's more, how long can it possibly be before the Marxist-in-Chief uses this new Pentagon social media technology to turbo boost his re-election campaign? Especially now that political hack Leon Panetta was just installed as Secretary of Defense?  

What could go wrong?

RocketmanBob's picture


They're developing this for use overseas, not here at home, since it would be useful in nationwide psychops.

John Rotten's picture

Pentagram troll, is that you?

knukles's picture

Sure.  Just like the Patriot Act is directed exclusively at non-US external threats, too.

A Lunatic's picture

I'm just giddy about the advent of internet voting.


robobbob's picture

and how could GW not have one mention of what Project Mockingbird has been doing for decades

this is just the TPTBs trying to compensate for the traditional media's loss of power

Boxed Merlot's picture

He who leads the upright astray in an evil way Will himself fall into his own pit, But the blameless will inherit good.

Proverbs 28:10

GoinFawr's picture

"What Jesus fails to appreciate is it`s the meek that are part of the problem..." -Monty Python

MFL8240's picture

The perfect plan for the planned martial law.  

MFL8240's picture

The perfect plan for the planned martial law.  

darkstar7646's picture

Does ANYBODY not now see that COG/Martial Law is very close?

Smith-Mundt is dead under that scenario.

Freddie's picture

I saw it at the grocery store today.  Prices are increasing each month.

Seasmoke's picture

so who is the Pentagon troll , here at Zerohedge

Ghordius's picture

There is no such thing.
Uncle Sam loves you. Buy US bonds.
If European, Aunt Europe loves you. Ask for a Eurobond!

Do they pay me now? Pls in gold.

onthesquare's picture

your tin foil hat is broken

Alcoholic Native American's picture

What is really crazy is that is an edited version of that documentary.

bankruptcylawyer's picture

can't they be sued in court based on the constitution prohibiting the government from operating on u.s soil? they will be using u.s. based servers correct? and sending information to u.s. citizens no?



wombats's picture

Probably not an issue.  They've probably outsourced/offshored their servers, services just like everyone in the Fortune 1000