The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas.. The US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets.” The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”. None of the interventions would be in English, as it would be unlawful to “address US audiences” with such technology. The languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto.
In his evidence to the Senate committee, Gen Mattis said: “OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda.” He added that Centcom was working with “our coalition partners” to develop new techniques and tactics the US could use “to counter the adversary in the cyber domain”. According to a report by the inspector general of the US defence department in Iraq, OEV was managed by the multinational forces rather than Centcom.