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Pentagon Reviewing Social Media Apps

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After social media companies retaliated against a pro-American influence operation with conceivable ties to the U.S. government, the Pentagon is now examining its information warfare operations. Following concerns expressed by Biden administration officials, the Department of Defense asked its military units participating in psychological operations to produce a thorough accounting of their efforts by next month, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The internal investigation into government psyops follows Twitter and Meta’s crackdown on a Middle Eastern and Central Asian pro-US influence operation that was described in a Stanford Internet Observatory report. The analysis from Stanford and social media analytics company Graphika last month claimed that the social media giants terminated a network of accounts in July and August for coordinated unauthentic behavior and platform manipulation. The company claimed that its joint investigation had uncovered an interconnected web of accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and five other social media platforms that employed misleading techniques to push pro-Western narratives throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. In contrast to one uniform operation, the platforms’ datasets appear to encompass a succession of covert campaigns across almost five years.

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Courtesy of Ian Dick (Flickr CC0)

Stanford Internet Observatory research manager Renée DiResta told The Washington Times that her team did not have adequate information. Stanford and Graphika did not explicitly identify who was in charge of the influence campaign.

Twitter and Meta both claimed the campaign had its putative origins in the United States and Great Britain, respectively. According to reports, U.S. Central Command is one of the American government figures whose social media behavior is under investigation.

The internal audit conducted by the American government, according to Ms. DiResta, gave her team hope. In a statement, she stated that these findings merit a rigorous examination to ensure the U.S. maintains a moral high ground and trust with critical audiences abroad while recognizing the reality of aggressive behavior in the space.

In order to comprehend how foreign influence operations spread online, the Department of Defense has acknowledged that it was looking into social media. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced last year that it was funding algorithm developers who were compiling tweets, memes, blog posts, and political advertisements for a program called “Influence Campaign Awareness and Sensemaking.” At the time, Brian Kettler, the program manager, stated that the government’s aim was to develop the instruments required to produce an “early warning” of foreign influence.

The Pentagon issued the following statement: “The Department of Defense conducts military information support activities in support of our national security interests as a matter of policy. These actions must be conducted in accordance with DoD policy and US law. We are dedicated to upholding such protections.” Regarding the Pentagon review, Twitter opted not to respond.

However, the U.S isn’t the only country that has done this. Many of these methods of spreading false information online were invented by Russia, which used Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to do so. Eastern Europe was the target of some of the nation’s initial pro-Kremlin propaganda campaigns. The methods used by Russia have been imitated by other nations.

Facebook has identified more than a dozen nations, including Iran, Sudan, and Nicaragua, that have developed disinformation campaigns in the Russian model during the previous eight years. The corporation now releases monthly reports that include information about recent disinformation attempts that it has eliminated. Facebook and Twitter have also been used by China to improve its image and refute claims that it violates human rights.

Written by Gabriel Salgado

Sources:

The Washington Times: U.S. government reviewing psyops after social media crackdown on a pro-American influence campaign

The New York Times: Pentagon Orders Review of Its Overseas Social Media Campaigns

The Verge: The Pentagon has ordered a review of US psyops on social media

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of gregwest98 Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of Ian Dick Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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