Most people use social media like Facebook and Twitter to share photos of friends and family, chat with friends and strangers about random and amusing diversions, or follow their favorite websites, bands and television shows.
But what does the U.S. military use those same networks for? Well, we can’t tell you: That’s “classified”, a CENTCOM spokesman recently informed Raw Story.
One use that’s confirmed, however, is the manipulation of social media through the use of fake online “personas” managed by the military.
Recently the U.S. 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.
“Anything that is out in the open is fair game for collection”, says Steven Aftergood, who tracks intelligence issues at the Federation of American Scientists.
The intelligence community has been interested in social media for years.
“We have groups looking at what they call ‘citizens media’: people taking pictures with their cell phones and posting them on the internet. Then there’s social media, phenomena like MySpace and blogs”.
But, “the CIA specifically needs the help of innovative tech firms to keep up with the pace of innovation in social media”.
“If the intelligence community ignored that tsunami of real-time information, we’d call them incompetent”.