US Centcom targets online violent propaganda - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
It appears that the United States has been won over by the idea. Not only does the department of state employ paid commenters, but a new $2.75 million initiative led by US Central Command would allow for the creation of sock puppets in order to combat online extremism.
Since 2006, the Digital Outreach Team, a 10-person operation within the department of state’s Bureau of International Information Programs, has engaged on blogs within the Arabic, Persian, and Urdu blogospheres, leaving comments on various sites while overtly identifying themselves as US government employees.
In late 2010, a paper released by the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD) opined that the state department’s efforts in this space have been ineffective in combating extremism in the Palestinian territories and that future efforts should include both a lack of disclosure and an increase in personnel. The FDD’s paper also recommended the team become a source of intelligence.
Though there is no evidence that the FDD’s paper effectively influenced the department of state’s strategy, a more chilling approach is taking root.
The United States military has contracted with California-based company Ntrepid to develop software that would allow users to secretly manipulate conversations on social media sites.