Pentagon Admits Spending Millions To Study Social Media Manipulation

Tyler Durden's picture

Just days after a report published by researchers at Facebook revealed that users of the social media site had been manipulated for science, The Guardian reports that DARPA - the Pentagon-run Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - has in one way or another funded several studies recently that set out to explore that social networking site, as well as users of Twitter, Pinterest, Kickstarter and others. DARPA told the Guardian that the studies it has funded are essential to US defense interests.

As The Guardian reports,

The activities of users of Twitter and other social media services were recorded and analysed as part of a major project funded by the US military, in a program that covers ground similar to Facebook’s controversial experiment into how to control emotions by manipulating news feeds.

 

Research funded directly or indirectly by the US Department of Defense’s military research department, known as Darpa, has involved users of some of the internet’s largest destinations, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Kickstarter, for studies of social connections and how messages spread.

 

Several of the DoD-funded studies went further than merely monitoring what users were communicating on their own, instead messaging unwitting participants in order to track and study how they responded.

 

Shortly before the Facebook controversy erupted, Darpa published a lengthy list of the projects funded under its Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program, including links to actual papers and abstracts.

DARPA's reasoning...

“Through the program, Darpa seeks to develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information."

 

“Social media is changing the way people inform themselves, share ideas, and organize themselves into interest groups, including some that aim to harm the United States,” said a spokesman. “Darpa supports academic research that seeks to understand some of these dynamics through analyses of publicly available discussions conducted on social media platforms.”

However...

papers leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate that US and British intelligence agencies have been deeply engaged in planning ways to covertly use social media for purposes of propaganda and deception.

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On the Pentagon’s part, DARPA told the Guardian that the studies it has funded are essential to US defense interests... Orwell would be proud