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Air Force Wants Hundreds of Fake Online Identities

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the for-great-justice-or-a-bad-simulation dept.

Government 124

bizwriter writes "Bad enough that spammers are creating fake Facebook accounts that acquire connections with unsuspecting people, then inundate them with crap. Now, the US military wants software and services to manage upwards of 500 fake online personas designed to interact with social media, presumably including such sites as Facebook and Twitter."

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124 comments

What is the problem? (0)

devxo (1963088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252852)

It's not like they're trying to scam you like spammers. More than anything this is a good thing so normal people can use fake identities with social networks too.

Re:What is the problem? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35252864)

It's worse than spam. It's coordinated government propaganda on a large scale...

Re:What is the problem? (3, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253002)

Exactly, it is. But who doesn't have a fake facebook account ?

I have 2, for personal use (so that facebook leaves me alone with game "announcements" in my serious mailboxes). Am I alone ? And I'm not even in Sales.

In my company's sales team most everybody has at least a "commercial" and a private account. That means our company "has" euhm ... a dozen facebook accounts perhaps, something like that. You could call it "astroturfing" probably, because it kinda is. Everybody does it.

Another storm in a glass of water. Jeuj.

But I dont have to pay for yours (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253138)

Propaganda is used to extract compliance and MONEY. I dont like my own money being used against me and my fellows to extract even more money.

Re:What is the problem? (3, Informative)

emm-tee (23371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253312)

Exactly, it is. But who doesn't have a fake facebook account ?

Logic failure. Just because you have one account for social use and one for business, one of which you could call "fake", and you consider that "okay", doesn't suddenly mean that you have to accept that all fake Facebook accounts have to be "okay". Fake accounts for the purposes of astroturfing or propaganda are definitely not okay.

In my company's sales team most everybody has at least a "commercial" and a private account. That means our company "has" euhm ... a dozen facebook accounts perhaps, something like that. You could call it "astroturfing" probably, because it kinda is. Everybody does it.

Just because some of your peers do it doesn't necessarily make it okay. http://news.slashdot.org/story/09/07/15/1351204/Internet-Astroturfer-Fined-300000 [slashdot.org]

Re:What is the problem? (2)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254312)

Exactly, it is. But who doesn't have a fake facebook account ?

Logic failure. Just because you have one account for social use and one for business, one of which you could call "fake", and you consider that "okay", doesn't suddenly mean that you have to accept that all fake Facebook accounts have to be "okay". Fake accounts for the purposes of astroturfing or propaganda are definitely not okay.

Exactly. It's one thing to create fake identities to sell shit, it's a completely different activity to create fake identities to kill people. (But who am I kidding? Our government has been doing that for decades.)

It may not be obvious (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253070)

It's worse than spam. It's coordinated government propaganda on a large scale...

Agreed.

The Air Force wouldn't post as "Flyboy" or "AirForcePilot" or "F22" lover or anything like that. It wouldn't be obvious at all.

Then again, I don't think it's such a big deal, after all and folks should just ignore this and focus on more important things like getting the F-22 program going again.

Yours,

--NavyTakesItUpTheAss.

Re:It may not be obvious (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253150)

-NavyTakesItUpTheAss

I didn't believe this until my current job. Even though I've pretty much always worked Navy sponsored programs, the amount that it appears that they have to deal with in terms of operating under impossible budgets/manning surprised the hell out of me.

ie: You have to train 10 men, here 2 trainers. Training takes 4 days per person. You have 1 week.

Re:It may not be obvious (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253696)

I want to know when the Air Force will quit wasting money on the F-35 and F-22, these programs serve no purpose than to keep Air Force pilots flying fast with their scarves blowing in the wind - a complete and total waste - spend the money on better UAV's and ISR platforms - I see no future war on the horizon where having the best multi-role fighter will be any kind of advantage - the wars of the future are asymmetric and will be fought on different battlefields ....

Re:What is the problem? (3, Insightful)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253322)

It's worse than spam. It's coordinated government propaganda on a large scale...

And even worse, it is not the government, it is an unelected body of the executive branch, hopefully controlled by the government.

If they want to take part in the public debate, they should do it in an open fashion.

But also for their own well being: what if after some years information about these secret dealings get (wiki)leaked? Political interventions by the military are symptoms of a dictatorship.

Re:What is the problem? Stupidity (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254518)

Propaganda is a menu of dogma-tarts for salivating idiots, all seeking to bake-people and eat ash.

DoD-GO, C*O, globally politicians...clergy some are good and most are bad. The way to tell is listen for any dogma.

Sadly, the salivating idiots and fearful majority only know how to irrationally and dangerously regurgitate dogma upon US, EU, RU....

Fucking waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35254556)

What a fucking waste of taxpayer dollars

Re:What is the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35252956)

More than anything this is a good thing so normal people can use fake identities with social networks too.

The thing is, you can't. My facebook account was disabled about 2 weeks ago because I registered it (years ago) under a nickname, rather than my real identity. It is against the terms of service of Facebook to use a "fake" identity. (which is funny in my case, since I am somehow better known under than nickname than my own name)

Let's see if facebook obediently lets G-men troll online. That'll tell us, if it was needed at all, about their loyalties and interests.

Re:What is the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35252980)

It is already suggested by supposedly legit agencies that CIA or some such organization helped get fb started. If that is true I can not see fb cancelling any US military / CIA fake accounts...

Re:What is the problem? (0)

Cant use a slash wtf (1973166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252978)

Oh right, because regular people are allowed to do what the people with money running the military are allowed to do. Get your head out of your ass.

Re:What is the problem? (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253096)

On facebook ?

Re:What is the problem? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253130)

A fair number of people (I even know a bunch, rather than just reading about it) have their accounts locked by Facebook HQ for not being "real persons". Private citizens then need to jump through hoops in order to get their accounts back.

The US govt on the other hand will just specially deliver a National Security Letter or two (or a lot more). Facebook will have to secretly keep the secret personas unlocked for secret reasons and secret govt officials.

The only way we'll piece together propaganda is to wait for HBGary style attacks on social media sites so we see the internals ticking over. No way, considering how many real people out there are nuts likely to spout the same messages, is there going to be a way of picking up subtle keyword dropping.

Re:What is the problem? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253214)

Not possible, it would violate Facebooks EULA.

Re:What is the problem? (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253228)

They're not scamming you like spammers. They're trying to scam you about 1000000 times more than spammers. (Just look at how much money goes into each organization.)

Re:What is the problem? (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253264)

It's not like they're trying to scam you like spammers. More than anything this is a good thing so normal people can use fake identities with social networks too.

Nope, I'm sure their intentions are pure ... just like the movie studios who do this [slashdot.org]

Re:What is the problem? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35254086)

They should come to /. Plenty of sock puppet accounts here. Just take a look at the moderation system. It works like a government program.

Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (1)

Mjec (666932) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252856)

You know, like @Area51 or a Facebook page for The Marines or whatever. This is what organisations do.

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (5, Insightful)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252886)

Clearly, you didn't read the article. Which I know is an absurd thing to do on /.

However.. this is not about making an account for @Area51 or a Facebook page, so you can Like the Marine Corps.

The USAF wants a software package that will allow a user to create and manage 10 separate accounts that are geograhically and culturally correct for the area the account is supposed to be from. And they want the package to be able to handle at least 50 such users.

They want the ultimate in internet troll technology.

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252958)

They want the ultimate in internet troll technology.

Never thought I'd see real, military-grade troll technology.

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (3, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253140)

They have been doing it for years online. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29040299/ns/us_news-military/ [msn.com] http://www.slate.com/id/2126479/ [slate.com]
The next gen would be very direct http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/01/15/sunstein [salon.com]
The old Office of Strategic Influence:
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0219-01.htm [commondreams.org]

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (2)

Don Faulkner (138856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253126)

They want the ultimate in internet troll technology.

Apparently trolls make awesome cyber-warriors.

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253644)

Until they are faced with magic and black H&Ks, wielded by fit, artificially enhanced women wearing black leather and reflecting sun glasses.

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254072)

Apparently trolls make awesome cyber-warriors.

I had a nasty troll hiding under br0, preventing my VMs from getting access to the 'net.

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (2)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254960)

They want the ultimate in internet troll technology.

As [ a single mom / a taxpayer / someone who works in this field / someone who just learned about this in high school / a fellow 1ee7 hax0r / someone who's been there ] I must object to the way you talk about [ the people who defend us / our proud military / our overlords / these really cool people ] !!!

[ I just hope / It seems / I know] that you don't speak for everyone here at [ facebook / twitter / 4chan / salon.com / slashdot/ our liberal internet web-log with user generated content] Because as much as we [oppose / hate / make fun of / resist] our government, at the end we know, they're here for us [insert smiley]

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35252896)

Why would an organisation need to also hide their IP address/geographic location as well as to avoid being discovered by adversaries?

You're an apologist for a government intent on distributing propaganda and misleading the public.

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253120)

I've got two real IDs. Years ago my identity as defined by various government documents sort of got split.
I never bothered to re-merge them. Yep, I have two passports.

Re:Not fake IDs, corporate IDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253198)

Witness protection program?

Governments that can SPY & PROPOGATE!? (2)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252868)

The funniest thing is that this document wasn't classified (not that THAT means anything these days :P)

Re:Governments that can SPY & PROPOGATE!? (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252874)

Wait, these aren't explicitly false identities? This is normal stuff then, with the only shocking thing being the sheer number...

There's an article about that at arstechnica (2)

operator_error (1363139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252872)

There's an article about that at arstechnica. It seems the air force can dial up a company called HBGary to purchase such account services, presumably using an analog line and PSTN number in order to reach HBGary. Still, I wouldn't bet that even the phone is operational.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/black-ops-how-hbgary-wrote-backdoors-and-rootkits-for-the-government.ars [arstechnica.com]

In June 2010, the government was expressing real interest in social networks. The Air Force issued a public request for "persona management software," which might sound boring until you realize that the government essentially wanted the ability to have one agent run multiple social media accounts at once.

Re:There's an article about that at arstechnica (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252984)

It seems the air force can dial up a company called HBGary to purchase such account services

Yeah I hear they are the go-to guys for Internet security issues.

Re:There's an article about that at arstechnica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35254198)

Yeah I hear they are the go-to guys for Internet security issues.

http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/Anonymous-exposes-US-security-company-1189973.html (h-online.com) and http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/More-background-on-the-US-security-firm-break-in-1191797.html (h-online.com)

Re:There's an article about that at arstechnica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253018)

Old news day at Slashdot again?

Gotta Keep an Eye on the Public (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35252884)

So after the Egyptian rioting the US feels a need to keep a close eye on public communications being posted on through social networks? What are they going to do with it is the question. Do they simply want to be aware of what political public climate changeos are occurring or will the power become abused as they start pulling down accounts that post links to politically sensitive issues they'd rather not have spread around.

Umm . . .. (1)

228e2 (934443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252898)

Why not just talk to NSA?

Re:Umm . . .. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253256)

The NSA would watch your site, you would get a lot of hits from strange bots, front .coms, networks, contractors.
Other more clean teams would then jump in and try and shape, misdirect, milk, discredit or form long term friendships.

Only Losers use Facebook so Whow Cares (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35252942)

If somebody with no personality "friends" you, then you know he is a government agent. Just like the guy at the G-twenty summit in Toronto who carried a sign saying "Down with the Oil Sands" was an obvious right winger with the police force, and just like Aaron Barr was found out by Anonymous long before he bragged about "exposing" them. These people are too "smart" for their own good.

Maybe instead of trying to harass people they should try to make the world a better place. Like for example instead of the United States giving billions of dollars a year to the Egyptian dictatorship (which ended up collapsing, thus wasting huge amounts of U.S. dollars), maybe they could have given that money to organizations like Wikileaks that will make a better world for us by exposing corruption.

Unfortunately people in power are corrupt and incompetent. I don't know why. It just seems that people who are most interested in gaining power do so by corrupt means, and continue to be corrupt when they have already achieved power. It's sad and pathetic and is an indictment of our Leadership.

Re:Only Losers use Facebook so Whow Cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35252990)

Fail on title, fail on first sentence, fail on "G-twenty." I didn't have the courage to read further.

Facebook terms and conditions (5, Informative)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 3 years ago | (#35252968)

Try reading the facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities [facebook.com] , By using or accessing Facebook, you agree to this Statement., section 4.1: You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.

Presumably a law upholding (ahem) organisation like the US government and its agencies will want to abide with agreements that they enter in to ???

Why can they just lie and expect to get away with it. So does that imply that I can lie on my tax form and also expect to get away with it ? I am sorry: this is not acceptable. Governments seem to regard the law and good morals as something that others need to obey, not themselves. What about the individuals who manage these fake accounts, if I ordered an employee of mine to lie they would be liable to prosecution just as I would be; why should government employees be any different ?

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35252986)

+ informative / insightful..

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253082)

Facebook's user agreement isn't law... it's just a user agreement. If I invite you into my home, I might ask you to first agree to take off your shoes before entering. If you agree to my terms and conditions, but then come into my house with your shoes on, you're not breaking any laws (but you might get kicked out of my house). Income tax on the other hand, is federal law (Title 26 of US code). Breaking Facebook's user agreement isn't illegal, but lying on your income tax is usually very illegal.

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (1)

228e2 (934443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253090)

+ informative / insightful..

(but use a car analogy next time please)

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253382)

It's not so clear cut. Unauthorized access to a computer system is an offence. Remember Terry Childs? He had a disagreement with his employer which should have been a purely civil matter, but the involvement of computers made it criminal.

But the question "does a technical breach of the Ts & Cs make access criminal?" has not yet been answered by the courts.

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253092)

Uh, hacking is illegal too. Do you really think the government gives 2 shits about this? You can go to your Navy recruiter tomorrow and sign up to be a CTN and you will be hacking networks in no time. Military trumps face-book eula, come on man you can't be serious. I'm pretty sure you can't order an employee to carry a rifle either, they can.

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (3, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253178)

Uh, hacking is illegal too. Do you really think the government gives 2 shits about this? You can go to your Navy recruiter tomorrow and sign up to be a CTN and you will be hacking networks in no time. Military trumps face-book eula, come on man you can't be serious. I'm pretty sure you can't order an employee to carry a rifle either, they can.

Err, well you have to understand that it IS illegal for the government to do illegal things. The government just has the advantage that it can make exceptions for itself in many situations because the government decides what IS and ISN'T illegal.

I'm pretty sure I CAN order an employee to carry a rifle as well. Especially if I hired someone to manage my ranch. Do you think if you ran a restaurant you couldn't demand that your chef use knives?

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (5, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253168)

Presumably a law upholding (ahem) organisation like the US government and its agencies will want to abide with agreements that they enter in to ???

Why can they just lie and expect to get away with it. So does that imply that I can lie on my tax form and also expect to get away with it ? I am sorry: this is not acceptable. Governments seem to regard the law and good morals as something that others need to obey, not themselves. What about the individuals who manage these fake accounts, if I ordered an employee of mine to lie they would be liable to prosecution just as I would be; why should government employees be any different ?

What makes you think that there has to be one and only one user agreement? It's just the basic agreement that they offer everyone, there is nothing preventing the government from going to Facebook and asking:

"Hey, we want to use your service, but we don't care for the current contract. Here is what we would like: Strike lines 1383 and 273, add these lines...."

For example, you come over to my house and I ask you to take off your shoes. You do so, but when you get in you see that Bob is still wearing his shoes. I respond that I let Bob wear his shoes because he asked if he could, and I said yes. You ask and I say no.

A company doesn't have to offer one 'user agreement to bind them all' and only one. Facebook could have thousands (and probably does) for different jurisdictions, groups, etc.

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35254602)

Then there should be a law preventing different legal rights to different parties, shouldn't all parties be considered the same? If not, why not?

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 3 years ago | (#35255672)

Then there should be a law preventing different legal rights to different parties, shouldn't all parties be considered the same? If not, why not?

Because the GPL allows you to license and/or sell your code separately if you want.

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253378)

Agreements are for suckers

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254324)

Governments seem to regard the law and good morals as something that others need to obey, not themselves.

Why did they stop teaching civics class, Alex?

Re:Facebook terms and conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35255702)

section 4.1: You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook

Using your real identity on the Internet? Are they nuts?????

What have we come to?

Couldn't they just pay (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35252988)

500 astroturfers ?

May I suggest some names from Buckaroo Banzai? (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253020)

John Barnett, John Bigboote, John Camp, John Careful Walker, John Chief Crier, John Cooper, John Coyote, John Edwards, John Fish, John Fledgling, John Gomez, John Grim, John Guardian, John Icicle Boy, John Jones, John Joseph, John Kim Chi, John Lee, John Littlejohn, John Many Jars, John Milton, John Mud Head, John Nephew, John Nolan, John O'Connor, John Omar, John Parrot, John Rajeesh, John Ready to Fly, John Repeat Dance, John Roberts, John Scott, John Smallberries, John Starbird, John Take Cover, John Thorny Stick, John Two Horns, John Whorfin, John Wood, John Wright, John Ya Ya

I don't know what the authors of this film were smoking, but I want some . . .

Re:May I suggest some names from Buckaroo Banzai? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253252)

You can't use John Bigboote. John Bigboote is dead. He fell on his head.

Government Trolls. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253048)

They are already on most social networking sites. You really think anyone would be supportive of the US government unless they were getting a paycheck out of it? All this software is trying to do is make Goverment Trolls lives easier, so they can troll even more sites more effectively.

If WE did it, we could be jailed for "hacking"... (5, Interesting)

JimMarch(equalccw) (710249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253060)

There's a recent trend of prosecuting people for "unauthorized use of online systems" when all they did was violate the terms of agreement of Facebook or the like. It's a real stretch to call that "hacking" but they sure tried hard in the 2008 Lori Drew case:

http://hackaday.com/2008/05/27/violating-terms-of-service-equals-hacking/ [hackaday.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Lori_Drew [wikipedia.org]

They actually failed in that case:

http://www.burneylawfirm.com/blog/tag/hacking/ [burneylawfirm.com] ...but it was *federal* prosecutors who argued that the same thing the Air Force wants to do is in fact illegal if private citizens do it. And that wasn't the only such case - two more are discussed on this 2010 page:

http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/6189-can-terms-of-service-turn-you-into-a-criminal [econsultancy.com]

On top of all those issues, there might be something else illegal about this, something unique to government actors. Is it constitutional for the state to lie to influence public opinion? Seriously, are we a "democracy" (yeah, I know, technically a Constitutional Republic) anymore, if public opinion can be systematically shifted via...well, bullshit? We have "freedom of information" laws - doesn't that at least imply that information coming from government sources not be a total fraud from top to bottom?

If we let government actors spread BS at will...ummm...we have some really ghastly examples of where that leads. North Korea is probably the worst of the worst possible endgames there but there's a ton of others worldwide.

Re:If WE did it, we could be jailed for "hacking". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253112)

Get real. USA is not a democracy.
There is no correlation between votes and president. GWB was declared president even though Al "I invented internet" Gore had more votes.
In the last 2 general elections there has been several reported cases of election fraud.
A number of government "letter" agencies have powers to violate citizens as they see fit

Re:If WE did it, we could be jailed for "hacking". (3, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253206)

OH get off it. We have a Constitution which defines how our officials are elected and the President is selected.

Don't bitch and moan that the government followed the Constitution, Following the rules and limitations set forth in the Constitution is EXACTLY what we need the government to do. It is the rules that WE place on the government. You can't get mad for the government following the rules.

This is the reason why a lot of us (advocates of limited government) when people work to have the government do things it isn't authorized to do. Even if it is a 'good' thing to do, we shouldn't let them do it if it isn't in their authorization. If we think they should do it, then we need to give them the authorization by amending the Constitution. Otherwise, the Constitution is pointless. And advocating that the government should ignore the Constitution no matter how 'noble' the cause would be just like advocating for the government to ignore the Bill of Rights.

Re:If WE did it, we could be jailed for "hacking". (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253736)

Don't bitch and moan that the government followed the Constitution,

That's not really what it does, though. For example, the constitution specifies free trade and NAFTA is not a constitutional amendment yet it conflicts sharply with the constitution. The government does whatever it can get away with on behalf of its customers, the major corporations who pay for the campaigns to re-elect the incumbent, or before that, to elect their pet congresscritters.

Re:If WE did it, we could be jailed for "hacking". (2)

JimMarch(equalccw) (710249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253828)

If you're talking about the electoral college, that and the Senate representation (two per state regardless of the size of the state) was a compromise to keep the big states from completely dominating the small states. That's part of the rulebook and it's necessary.

If however you're talking about electronic ballot fraud, hey man, right there with ya! Google my name with "Diebold" or the like.

Jim March
Member of the Board of Directors,
http://blackboxvoting.org/ [blackboxvoting.org]

Re:If WE did it, we could be jailed for "hacking". (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253230)

you could still get jailed if you took this assigment, offered it to them as a professional and then ran the services - the actual id fraud on major social networking companies- online.

Re:If WE did it, we could be jailed for "hacking". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253866)

Actually, it is not legal for an intelligence operation to strategically or otherwise intentionally lie to Americans in America - that's why the Office of Strategic Influence (oh, I mean Information Operations Task Force) was chartered. It is legal to intentionally and strategically spread false and seditious information as neatly packaged organic truth in foreign theaters - if those stories happen to circulate back into the American press, well, that's nothing that the originating US agency is legally responsible for occurring.
This stuff is generally broken into three categories of propaganda - white, grey, and black operations. The government can legally feed the US population white stuff "anytime", grey stuff "most of the time" depending on haw it is prepared, but coordinated black campaigns cannot target Americans in America directly. One way around that is by pumping it out on foreign wires and it kinda just ends up in the US media. Another is if the message and key points of the campaign are "leaked" (plausible deniability and/or seemingly organic - who could prove what). Anyway, maybe not what's going on here, but I thought it an interesting contextual add to your observations.
We live in an authoritarian republic, its like a oligarchic pseudo-representative quasi-democratic military state where the president is the top general in the military and the legislation is backed by the "military-industrial complex" and other prominent industrial interests.

i think it's a good idea (5, Interesting)

phntm (723283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253098)

pilots get shot down and forced to eject over hostile territories, it's a very good idea to provide them with plausible fake identities which include a rich plausible background.
this can save lives and help our solders buy enough time to get rescued.
also, if a spook wants to contact, let's say, the nsa or the cia from a hostile territory, i doubt he'll go over the phone.
plus in many places encryption is a sign of wrongdoing, so using facebook and even slashdot commentary might be a good way to communicate home.
dear mods, next time you see a troll, it's just might be a coded message from a secret agent.

Re:i think it's a good idea (5, Funny)

louic (1841824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253124)

The eagle has left the nest. Please mod my post up +5 Insightful in the interest of national security, it is a message of the utmost importance.

Re:i think it's a good idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253132)

This is not the reason why they're doing this. If you don't think they can spot an American 500 miles away, you're wrong. If you think that a "spook" would contact someone over facebook, again wrong (unsecured, no encryption/tunneling, c'mon man). They're not doing this to monitor military personnel. Anti-terrorism intelligence sounds more like something the FBI/CIA would do. I'm pretty sure the soul reason this is being done is for propaganda, I just hope that it's for foreign propaganda and not domestic. Consider this, the people who would be willing to support American agendas in these countries are by far the minority, even less of them would be willing to admit it. By creating an online community of fake people who would have them believe that many people are publicly stating that they are pro American agenda, these fake personas can post whatever they want without being killed/punished by their dictators. They would make them believe that they "fit in" and that their numbers are actually much higher than in reality, and that their members are much more confident and vocal than they actually are. The accounts cannot be "shutoff" through the methods that governments have been using, either. I would be surprised to learn that the government hasn't been doing this already for a while, it could of played a big part in Egypt already. I think many of us are far to naive as to our own governments power/agenda.

Re:i think it's a good idea (3, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253224)

If you think that a "spook" would contact someone over facebook, again wrong (unsecured, no encryption/tunneling, c'mon man).

IndustrialComplex thinks that the weather was nice yesterday, he wishes it could stay like this for the entire weekend.

Decrypt that message. Find the suspicious behavior in that message. Do you know how many datapoints could be in that message?

The number one rule of any sort of clandestine activity is to be in the bell curve. Be that 50% person. You aren't James Bond, you are Mike Smith. You drive a reasonable vehicle. Maybe a Sonata.

Re:i think it's a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253262)

The problem with that obfuscation technique is that it isn't effective when you have an entire history of hundreds of previous coded messages. It might work if only small percentage are legitimate though.

Re:i think it's a good idea (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253580)

The problem with that obfuscation technique is that it isn't effective when you have an entire history of hundreds of previous coded messages. It might work if only small percentage are legitimate though.

Of course if something is used over and over it is possible to extract extra information. Important messages or statements might only be used once. The above comment could have been a typical 'Nothing new'. But it is a hell of a lot more complicated than that.

You can begin to associate messages with events... if you already know what events to associate with the message.... if you already know to look at that message.

So if you know to look at someone, and you theorize that their regular statements contain extra information, and you have some idea of what events may be associated with particular comments, then perhaps you can start to break it.

But like passwords, the greater the character set you draw from, the harder it is to crack. What if you factor in certain emotions as a qualifier? What if a certain feeling is a trigger for another word to mean the opposite? Take this to a very basic statement.

I'm not feeling well today. I just can't seem to get over this sinus headache. This new allergy prescription doesn't work as well as the old one. Does anyone have any home remedies I could try?

It refers to health, it mentions symptoms, a drug or two, and temporal information.

But what doesn't it mention? There is a doctor involved. The tone is negative. Did you happen to notice that the request was at the end of the message instead of the beginning? I could have easily asked if anyone knew how to treat an allergy first, and then went into the description. Does that mean anything?

Now, this is off the top of my head, and obviously terribly simplistic. But it achieves to illustrate that there are many ways to increase the complexity in a manner that makes attempting to decipher it without 'clues' nearly impossible.

Even then, let's say you are getting close, and I read a message on some business journal that company xyz purchased 5,000 units from so and so.

That message just changed my 'password' and some of the associations of my messages. Probably not all of them, maybe all of them. But you don't know that.

Maybe I just like getting into discussions on Slashdot on Saturday mornings. Maybe that means something.

Re:i think it's a good idea (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253792)

IndustrialComplex thinks that the weather was nice yesterday, he wishes it could stay like this for the entire weekend.

Decrypt that message. F

So all those "friends" on my facebook mindlessly telling me throughout the day what they are thinking about making for supper, that they have started making supper, how the supper tasted, and what they want for dessert, and that their dog took too long to crap during their walk - might be secret government clandestine communications??!?!

Makes more sense now. It's a perfect cover to put mindless drivel in amongst mindless drivel.

Re:i think it's a good idea (1)

Betaemacs (1737586) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254624)

The problem with your scenario is that is doesn't explain the need for the software. What they are seeking is the ability to fake 500 accounts at a time, how many secret agents would they need to require that kind of throughput? An analogy (sorry no car) is the difference between a web server that can handle 500 hits a day and one that can handle 500 hits simultaneously.

Re:i think it's a good idea (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253272)

Would you risk your best and brightest with some .com effort?
They look after expensive spooks. This seems for pure psyops aimed at the US public.

Re:i think it's a good idea (2)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253558)

So if you get shot down in enemy territory, they're going to ask to see your Facebook page? I think it's more likely they want to convince you that some of the "friends" you have are really in support of what the government is doing in some oil-rich country and by the way they think file sharing is bad and it should be a crime.

Re:i think it's a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253680)

it's just might be a coded message from a secret agent.

U R gay = Uruguay

Re:i think it's a good idea (1)

JimMarch(equalccw) (710249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253808)

Right, the "lying for security needs" argument. And it's valid, in a lot of cases.

But then a lot of non-security-related stuff gets shoved under the same rug.

The Wikileaks cables dump is FULL of such stuff. For example, you have high-level diplomats and other US government actors saying "hey, the Saudis are massively overstating their oil reserves". And that's considered "secret". Seriously? Sure, it's been suspected by insiders in the oil biz for some time now but those "theories" just got a huge bump. Well guess what? The US government plays the stock and commodities markets just like everybody else. If any other player in the oil biz had that sort of inside track on oil futures and kept it secret while playing the oil markets, there's a term for that: "insider trading".

WTF?

The rules need to be "use secrets for stuff that REALLY matters, like a downed pilot's fake ID behind enemy lines, and if the gov't screws up and uses secrecy laws either to prop up financial markets or cover their own fucktardedness, somebody like Manning steps up and releases it AND YOU DON'T JAIL THE WHISTLEBLOWER AS A RESULT".

Instead we see Manning basically in hell and weird-ass charges against Assange by the sockpuppets in Sweden...

Re:i think it's a good idea (0)

gtall (79522) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254466)

Manning broke the rules he swore to live by when he joined up. Screw him.

Re:i think it's a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35254666)

Manning broke the rules he swore to live by when he joined up. Torture him.

Fixed that for you.

Re:i think it's a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35255734)

'Just Following Orders' is not an acceptable excuse.

Re:i think it's a good idea (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254344)

pilots get shot down and forced to eject over hostile territories, it's a very good idea to provide them with plausible fake identities which include a rich plausible background. this can save lives and help our solders buy enough time to get rescued.

Or, maybe, they shouldn't be flying over hostile territory? Then they won't need to lie? I find it very odd that my government pays people to do things that we also put people in prison for.

the gov is drooling over this (1)

laktech (998064) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253128)

The Egyptions protests have demonstrated the incredible utility of social networking sites in enabling a large pool of people to organize around a common idea. Furthermore, the online presence of these discussions stipulates that many of the individual contributing their thoughts have not actually met in person. It is a group of anonymous souls with a common idea attempting to reach out to as many people as possible. I'm do not claim to be an expert in the group dynamics or how revolutions begin, but it is quite clear that the pool of people draw from mutual influence. Now, I can imagine a system of hundreds of fake, (semi-)automated profiles capable of infiltrating these discussion with IBM Watson type NLP precision and disrupting their progress. The exact method in how this is accomplish is quite complicated but with current technology it is not far from reality. The group dynamics would be quite different from reality and perhaps disturbed enough to prevent reaching a critical mass. I can parallel such a system to the effect of the news generated by CNN and Fox News--far from reality but quite influential. The opinions of those articulating reality is effectively be muddled, and now even in the social networking forum.

Re:the gov is drooling over this (3, Insightful)

Kiuas (1084567) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253666)

The Egyptions protests have demonstrated the incredible utility of social networking sites in enabling a large pool of people to organize around a common idea.

As nice as that does sound it's not true. The egyptian protests had at the most 300 000 people involed. Now, while that's a lot of people we must remember that Egypt has nearly 80 million inhabitants so compared to thatt the protests were actually pretty small. And more importantly: most of the people arrived to the streets after the social networking sites had been blocked.

The media seems to be painting a picture of some sort of revolution facilitated by social networking sites while completely forgetting the fact that no revolution actually took place: Mubarak is gone but the millitary regime that he hailed from is still in power and in fact stronger than ever (actually, the reason the millitary allowed and even endorsed the protests was that Mubarak wanted his son - who has no ties with the military - to be his successor and that angered most of the people in the armed forces). In addition, as I alreasdy stated the 300 000 protestors is not a major achievement for "social media". There have been protest even in middle-east before the era of the internet where millions of people joined the protests, such as the 1979 revolution of Iran. The crowd in Cairo never swelled to the point that it involved a substantial portion of the city.

And this concerns me how? (1)

klchoward (1574685) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253612)

If your Facebook privacy settings are up all the way (i.e., friends only) then what is there to worry about?

Re:And this concerns me how? (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35253826)

If your Facebook privacy settings are up all the way (i.e., friends only) then what is there to worry about?

How do you know your "friends" aren't watching YOU? Do you have any FB friends you don't really know? Are you sure?

I may or may not have created a completely bogus account on a popular social networking site, complete with using TOR to create it, fake nationality, language, pictures, names, interests, personal data, email address. I may or may not have quite a number of friends on that account, some from this country, some from other countries.

Lots of people accept friend requests from anyone and everyone. How many times have you got a friend request from "Shaniqua" or some other name and all it is is an account with a pic of a hot babe. Yeah, all of those are real people. Sure.

Nobody Cares Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253798)

It's funny how this used to be conspiracy theory, now it's conspiracy fact.

Who didn't know that folks posting pro US Constitution Anti-DHS threads we're getting buried?
It's more than just the USAF pulling this. Remember the poll that got pwned, where the first letter of each account name spelled out a small sting, "Marblecake, also the game."

If you speak truth to this fucking fascist tyranny of oath breakers, they will try to fuck your post up, bury it so it disappears.

Bad USAF. go concentrate on shit that doesn't fuck with THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITES STATES!

CA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35254108)

Uhh, isn't this illegal in California?

meh. (2)

milkmage (795746) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254224)

"...pointed out an AP investigation showing that the U.S. military spends billions to affect public opinion, both domestic and international,"
propaganda is to Government as marketing is to everyone else. ...this is just Comando Solo: online. a bunch of twitter/fb accounts are cheaper to maintain than an EC-130

(http://tech.military.com/equipment/view/89727/ec-130j-commando-solo-iii.html)
The EC-130J Commando Solo, a specially-modified four-engine Hercules transport, conducts information operations, psychological operations and civil affairs broadcasts in AM, FM, HF, TV and military communications bands. A typical mission consists of a single-ship orbit offset from the desired target audience -- either military or civilian personnel.

Better than the Navy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35254562)

Who formed their own BOY BAND!

yvan eht noij!

They will do this on Slashdot too. (1)

tombeard (126886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35254722)

So put on your nerd hats and figure out a way to detect these personae.

Re:They will do this on Slashdot too. (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35255716)

Slashdot already has acquired notoriety according to some government statements, there was an article about this on slashdot some time ago.

Interestingly Slashdot has attempted to become more mainstream maybe to drive up add revenue. With that it has become a more worthwhile target for spin doctoring and since it has gone down in quality to reach a larger audience, the effort an attacker has to expend has gone down as well. So the bar has been lowered for everyone.

I'd never have a facebook account... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35255440)

Who doesn't have a facebook account you ask? Hell I don't and never will. Especially being a guy on the net since we were gophering around in ARP, there is no way in hell I would post my life to that gaping vulnerable hole called Facebook, nor any other social network. For business there is definitly a purpose. Anyone I want to know in my personal life can call me on my telephone to get me. If you don't have my number then I don't want to know you. Facebook is hardly for all of us. Who doesn't have a facebook account? Many, many, wise people. Not calling myself wise, just aware and educated, but screw that man.

Friends (2)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35255498)

Looks like some 4 star general needs some more Farvmville friends. Isn't the Zynga limit 501?

He must be going for the biggest cyberfarm in history.

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