The Guardian reports that the US military is investing heavily in a sophisticated computer system that would allow it to create and operate fake social media accounts, with the apparent aim of spreading pro-US propaganda. If true, this would seem to be exactly the kind of thing that many US critics have accused the Chinese of doing.
Such a system would also seem to be against the user policies of sites like Facebook, which want users to sign up only with their real names. As Facebook has recently stated:
We take this standard very seriously and remove fake accounts as we become aware of them.
In fact, this was the justification used to recently shut down the account of a prominent Chinese dissident. There is no word yet from Facebook about the US military’s plans. It’s also unclear whether the military would be using Facebook in this way, although this must be a possibility given that Facebook is the world’s most popular social network.
The overall aim of this US military program is apparently to ‘degrade enemy narratives’, in other words to spread US propaganda to counter propaganda or beliefs spread by those who the US considers to be its enemies. The US program is apparently aiming to target non-US citizens because of concerns over the legality of using such fake ID’s against domestic targets. Anyway, it’s a clear example of the US insisting ‘do as we say, not as we do’.