US Military Kicks Off Plan To Fill Social Networks With Fake Sock Puppet Accounts

from the who-are-your-friends-now? dept

You may recall that one of the things that came out in the big HBGary Federal data dump was that the US government had put out a request (that HBGary was thinking of bidding on) for software that would let the government manage a bunch of social networking profiles at once, in order to create a series of different online personas on different social networks that could all be easily controlled by one person. Well, HBGary Federal didn't get the account... but someone else did. Apparently a company called Ntrepid has scored the contract and the US military is getting ready to roll out these "sock puppet" online personas. Of course, it insists that all of this is targeting foreign individuals, not anyone in the US. And they promise it's not even going to be used on US-based social networks like Facebook or Twitter, but does anyone actually believe that's true? As for HBGary Federal, losing out on this contract may be the least of its problems. Congress is now investigating any contracts the government currently has with HBGary, along with partners-in-planning, Palantir and Berico.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 5:58am

    You have recieved an infraction at Facebook:

    Being the sock of a banned user (USMJ).

    Administrative Note:

    You just screamed, "BAN ME MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!"

     

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  2.  
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    surfer (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 6:32am

    if you can't control them join them and control them.

    This is the new dis-information game. Similiar to the astroturf campaigning the Koch Brothers are doing in Wisconsin. Hiding their agenda behind corporate legalese to impersonate a true 'citizens'' group in the effort to bullsh*t them into believing that 'giving up basic freedoms makes you safer'. Which in fact, is quite the opposite. Unfortunately, I am web adept, and I can see right thru these facades with ease, belligerently I assume everyone can.

     

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  3.  
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    a-dub (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 6:54am

    It always begins this way. The gov. tells us it will not be used on US citizens, which is illegal in the first place. Then, at some "crucial" moment, it will be used on US citizens in the name of fighting the "T" word.

    This is wrong in so many ways. When will the US gov. realize that the ends do not justify the means. This isn't an episode of 24.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    George I. Joseph, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:03am

    Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    What's wrong with a little outreach from a public entity? I mean, what's the difference between a friendly online voice, and a recruiter going out to malls and schools?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:03am

    I guess we can expect the MPAA/RIAA to commission a study stating that 99% of people they interviewed online want copyright to be extended to 200 years. I mean, DHS/ICE is already working for big media, why not have the military join the party?

     

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  6.  
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    David Collado (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:09am

    TOS

    Wouldn't something like this violate most social networks' Terms Of Service? Not that the fed gives a shit, but it would be cool to read about some of these "personas" getting booted down the road when they're outed.

     

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  7.  
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    Schmoo, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:12am

    Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    Disclosure. Next?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:22am

    Re: TOS

    The TOS is only applicable to users. User's don't pay multi-million dollar bribes, so they are the only ones that have to follow the TOS.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    A weapon doesn't care if you are a friend or a foe. It damages all the same. It is just a matter of how much you trust the wielder.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    What amazes me is that you guys don't already think that Facebook and Twitter are the homes if huge number of "sock puppet" accounts (another horrible name, btw).

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:27am

    The US military won't target Americans. It would be illegal to do so... no matter how cynical you are, Mike, the US military is only mandated to conduct operations outside US borders. Same with the CIA and NSA.

    Now if it were the FBI or an organization within DHS, then yes, you might have a point.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:31am

    On a separate note, I'm surprised that Palantir hasn't been sued out of existence for its name. I'm not sure the Tolkien estate would want to license that out...

     

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  13.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Re: Sock puppets

    Now commencing Operation Lambchop.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    "The US military won't target Americans. It would be illegal to do so."

    Kids are so cute at this age. So naive.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12571711

     

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  15.  
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    chris (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:38am

    Re:

    The US military won't target Americans. It would be illegal to do so... no matter how cynical you are, Mike, the US military is only mandated to conduct operations outside US borders. Same with the CIA and NSA.

    ORLY?
    https://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying
    The evidence also shows that the government did not act alone. EFF has obtained whistleblower evidence [PDF] from former AT&T technician Mark Klein showing that AT&T is cooperating with the illegal surveillance. The undisputed documents show that AT&T installed a fiberoptic splitter at its facility at 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco that makes copies of all emails, web browsing, and other Internet traffic to and from AT&T customers, and provides those copies to the NSA. This copying includes both domestic and international Internet activities of AT&T customers. As one expert observed, “this isn’t a wiretap, it’s a country-tap.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    George I. Joseph, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    I'm just a guy on the internet, sir. I have nothing to hide?

     

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  17.  
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    Joseph Goebbels, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    Makes me proud. Never in my life could I have imagined such a tool for propaganda. Nice. Use Patriotism, and the fear of bad things happening to children to reach your goal.

    “Whoever can conquer the street will one day conquer the state, for every form of power politics and any dictatorship-run state has its roots in the street.”
    -Me

     

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  18.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re:

    And the CIA comment was even sillier. See:

    1. Project MK-ULTRA - Testing of illicit narcotics on US Citizens, at timew w/o their knowledge

    2. Operation Mockingbird - Covertly putting anticommunist messages into the US news media (appropos in this case)

    3. OSINT - Forerunner to the NSA's Echelon SIG/INT program, collected and analyzed communications data from public sources within the United States

    4. Nat'l Student Association: CIA payed college students and staff to spy on dissident groups on campuses across the country

    5. The Robertson Panel: CIA investigated UFO reports in the DC area and elsewhere

    6. Some CIA programs in the 70's involved intercepting domestic communiques of US citizens. They were discontinued in 1975 as illegal w/o warrants, but restarted under G.W. Bush. See Project Shamrock and Project Minaret as examples. HTLINGUAL intercepted and opened domestic mail of US citizens from the 50's to the 70's

    Pretending the CIA does not or has not operate within our borders is downright silly...

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    D, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 7:58am

    Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    I really don't think that the idea behind this is for recruiting new personnel into the military......

     

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  20.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    gotta say, my first reaction to the head of this was 'what, as opposed to all those Real sock puppet accounts?'

    heh. fake sock puppets.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    George I. Joseph, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    Well, people are certainly entitled to their opinion, including the proud, brave people of the US Armed Forces!

     

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  22.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    Great. So why do they need multiple accounts of fake people to express their opinion?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    P.V.T. Dobois, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    Perhaps they just want to assign a separate accounts to an individual representative.

    You know, for internal tracking and identification purposes.

    This way they get to know who's saying what!

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    Someone's got to sign the pro-MAFIAA petitions...

     

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  25.  
    icon
    .-=RWW=-. (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    @DH: Because so many of them are two-faced, having had 6.5 years of experiance working in the USAF, I encountered several with some form of multi-personality disorders, or no personality at all.

     

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  26.  
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    The eejit (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 8:52am

    Re:

    yep. They're the ones wearing those Santa socks you keep throwing out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Caledfwlch (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    Farmville

    I guess all those bored silo operators can now play Farmville and game the system by being their own neighbours!

     

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  28.  
    icon
    Fred (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Seriously Funny - Sock Puppets?!

    As long as there are bad guys there will be "good" guys trying to find them and "bad" guys trying to evade being found. The government really doesn't have enough money, time or resources to care too much about your personal details. Are you really that important? The biggest comedy of our ages was "Enemy of the State." It is not difficult to manage multiple social media accounts but they are just now getting around to doing this?! What kind of data are they really going to get with this approach. If they friend you what's the big deal? Why are you sharing personal details with strangers anyway? Let's get serious and spend some time having fun in Global Innovation Game (GiG)on Facebook (http://apps.facedbook.com/globalinnovationgame). You can share your ideas and see how they impact the world. I hope to lure thousands of "sock puppets" in and pick their collective Muppet brains on how to solve the real challenges our world faces.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Old Student, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: "...won't target Americans"

    "The US military won't target Americans. It would be illegal to do so."

    Sheesh. Ever hear of Kent State?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 11:34am

    Lack of education makes the grey/black astroturfing propaganda machine possible

    Sock puppets have been a part of the internet since day one. Software that can control multiple accounts has been used by spammers before, although in a sloppy manner. Not all of those companies in the bidding will drop plans to make such a system just because they didn't win the government contract. And now that more people know the government wanted this type of propaganda tool, other software companies will create their own systems to do it. They can then sell it to China, Russia, the middle east and religious extremists. It will become a hot commodity for corporations to advertise or push their agendas. These tools will undoubtedly be used to sway elections and opinions in multiple countries including America. Maybe they've already been used for that.

    The difference between today and when the internet began is that more people are buying into the authenticity of social networking accounts. The hive's IQ level has changed for the worst since the internet began. Even mass media is being duped or being complicit in the problem, thanks to lack of fact checking in journalism nowadays. They pull up shit from twitter every day and use it as a primary source. They might bring up 10 tweets on the same subject and only sometimes they have enough integrity to tell the viewer "this information is unconfirmed". But many viewers don't take that seriously because they're preconditioned to think social networking accounts are authentic human beings.

    This might be the strongest propaganda tool that's ever existed. Stronger than any state-ran propaganda tool in history. And even scarier because anyone can run their own propaganda campaigns, not just governments. Government reaction when they figure this out is going to be internet kill switch legislation and maybe more anti-propaganda laws which will have no effect on the people who use proaganda, just like anti-spam laws never stopped spam from reaching my inbox. People have had spam and scam education on the internet before and I suppose that has worked to an extent. This type of threat needs to be covered too.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    Re:

    yeah but i think the majority of those are so people can have more farmville neighbors, not covertly.....do whatever it is they are up to

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Re: Seriously Funny - Sock Puppets?!

    because its easy to become someone they think is important by being yourself on the internet things like:

    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/10/fbi-tracking-device/

    some kid made a joke on reddit, the fbi uses his profile to find out who his friends are and then plants a tracking device on one of his friends. Im sure this kid really isnt that important, but now he is being tracked and wiretapped and lord knows what else.

    I am certainly not that important but I dont trust the government to realize that.

     

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  33.  
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    jake andrews (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    On the subject of DOD entities targeting Americans.

    First off I have spent almost ten years in Army Intelligence, I know exactly what I am talking about.
    Bottom Line: The DOD Intelligence Oversight program states that (Paraphrased) Intelligence personnel may not intentionally target, collect, retain, and disseminate information on U.S. persons CONUS or OCONUS. Information pertaining to U.S. persons posing a threat to DoD personnel, resources or activities, is criminal information and falls under the purview of law enforcement and security. The key word here is intelligence personnel. The argument that "oh, those pysops guys spied on senators" holds no water, army pysops falls under special forces, not MI.
    In response to Chris, the US military is not prohibited from conducting operations in the US, the US Military, when under federal control, is prohibited from enforcing US laws by Posse Comitatus. This is why the Coast Guard is not legally considered a military force and falls under DHS and not DOD.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 1:26pm

    Re: On the subject of DOD entities targeting Americans.

    For now....

    People seem to forget that things change with time.

    This sort of thing should not be allowed to get off the ground


    The road to hell is be paved with good intentions

     

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  35.  
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    jenningsthecat (profile), Mar 18th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    Re: The US military won't target Americans

    Yeah, right. The DHS has no mandate to go after various kinds of copyright 'infringement', but that hasn't stopped them from prosecuting some poor guy just for linking to online videos:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/10/new-york-man-faces-five-years-in-jail-for-linking-t o-online-videos/

    What makes you think the military will behave any differently? Power always seeks more power, and takes it howeever and whenever it can.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 3:39pm

    Re:

    You can't be that stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2011 @ 10:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    "Well, people are certainly entitled to their opinion, including the proud, brave people of the US Armed Forces!"

    Let them express their opinion on their own time, using their own money, not on taxpayer time and money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2011 @ 10:36pm

    Cues Fackbook sues U.S. for such method violating their IP.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    nimbus, Sep 28th, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    The recruiter or friendly neighborhood police officer is wearing a uniform and a name badge. You know what they represent and if they attempt to gain personal information from you, you have the opportunity to make a responsible and knowledgeable decision about whether that's appropriate behavior.

    See FBI sting operations where FBI members help someone attempt to commit an act of terrorism they would otherwise not be capable of committing, or inclined to commit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/us/politics/30fbi.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2013 @ 7:06pm

    Re: Nothing wrong with meeting the people!

    It's called the US gov spreading misinformation to cover up scandals and atrocities that come to public light, or to justify the unjustifiable.
    Misinformation is a powerful means of control.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Mar 23rd, 2014 @ 7:09am

    Facebook trolls

    I was cool with this till the trolls started using the names and faced of my battle buddies who came home in a box. So I looked, and found akamadi.net hosts all the Facebook communications features. Ask and they deny it. Vlock akamadi and Facebook doesn't work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Mar 23rd, 2014 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re: The US military won't target Americans

    Lobe the bit were they tell us we are the real Americans and we have a duty to bring the fight home. I thought they meant infrastructure projects. Nope. Door to door drills every day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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