Pentagon demands audit of fake social media accounts used in psychological operations

Pentagon demands audit of fake social media accounts used in psychological operations
Image via Creative Commons.

The Pentagon will conduct a sweeping audit of its use of fake social media accounts to engage in psychological warfare.

Facebook and Twitter identified and removed ore than 150 accounts suspected of being run by the U.S. military in violation of platform policies, according to researchers at Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory, and undersecretary of defense for policy instructed military commands in online psychological operations to deliver a full accounting of their activities, reported the Washington Post.

“Our adversaries are absolutely operating in the information domain,” said a senior defense official. “There are some who think we shouldn’t do anything clandestine in that space. Ceding an entire domain to an adversary would be unwise. But we need stronger policy guardrails.”

The operations are authorized by law and policy, but the White House has pressed the Pentagon to clarify and justify their use, and Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, asked for a detailed accounting of the types of operations that have been carried out and who they targeted.

Sources familiar with the researchers' work said some recent posts advanced anti-Russia narratives, while another involved a fake Persian-language media site with content repurposed from the U.S.-funded Voice of America Farsi and Radio Free Europe.

The Pentagon discourages the military from pushing falsehoods, but there are no specific rules requiring truthful information for psychological operations.

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