Facebook as a Military Weapon?

My fellow puppeteers of sp711 probably already know what I am talking about. Operation Ernest Voice was brought to my attention by Professor Otto last week. It is essentially a military operation, run by CENTCOM, which creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. First information about OEV were leaked in 2010, which confirmed that this "sock puppet" software was originally used to manipulate online conversations to counter the presence of pro Al-Quaida opinions in Iraq. If you want more detailed information about OEV I really recommend to read the article "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media" in the Guardian.

So what does this mean for our everyday internet experience? Does privacy on the internet even exist? From my personal experience in the way I deal with my online presence, my personal photos, opinions etc. I know that social networks such as Facebook create a feeling of privacy, when really, at least those working at Facebook probably have full control of all the user accounts. Especially being only connected with people I know in real life gives me comfort when posting online. However, if a military operation can spread propaganda in foreign countries, doesn't this mean such operations could also be going on at home? It might not be solely for military reasons but for political manipulations. What for example if operations like these would be used in order to spread false information about certain political parties? Furthermore such operations could be used simply for marketing campaigns in order to promote a product. Our personal information (age, gender, location, preferences, dislikes, interests etc.) is already "safely" stored on our accounts, ready for companies to extract and create suitable advertising campaigns around this information. But how bad is all of this really? Should there be complete privacy online? is it even possible? What do you think?


  1. Dieser Kommentar wurde vom Autor entfernt.

  2. In regards to Operation Ernest Voice, I don't know if I'd call it a weapon so much as mere propaganda (... which, I guess can be argued that it's a weapon to a degree, but only to those foolish enough to fall for it).

    I wouldn't worry about my own personal privacy as much, either. The people participating in government sponsored sock puppetry are only doing so where it will be publicly visible, like forums and group webpages. The conversations they're influencing would probably only be internet arguments and flame wars. It's not like they're invading people's personal accounts and making fake comments.

    I think the people that would really have to worry about it would be the gullible ones who rely on other people to tell them their opinions... like the majority of the people who watch FoxNews in America. (frankly, I'm pretty certain that's where the majority of the US government sock puppets are hanging out, anyway).

    In regards to online security, basically, I don't really feel any need to worry about it personally because, well, I'm a nobody. Who cares if someone gets my information? What are they going to do, send more advertising for me to ignore?
    ( ̄~ ̄)

  3. hey Kao,
    thanks a lot for your input. I do think you have a valid point. I kind of feel the same way about my online privacy. I do not really feel threatened by not having full or only fake privacy online as I would simply not post anything that I would be embarrassed of or that I would not be OK with anybody to see it. However I do know that there are a lot of people who are not aware of the fact that there is no 100% privacy on facebook or the internet in general. Maybe all it takes for the internet to be a "safe place" is education and a healthy relationship to one's online use.

    As for advertising, I think it will more and more evolve into a customized program designed so that certain companies can advertize their products to a specific group of people. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, if of course this classificatino of people into groupd does not go further than advertising.