The Pentagon has ordered a review of US social media psyops

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Pentagon officials have ordered a thorough review of US information warfare operations conducted through social media platforms, The Washington Post reports, after both Twitter and Meta identified networks of fake accounts suspected of being connected to the US military.

Citing interviews with unnamed defense officials, the Job says Colin Kahl, Undersecretary for Policy at the Department of Defense, has asked all branches of the military that conduct online influence campaigns to provide a full account of their operations by next month.

The call for review comes after revelations from an August report by social media analytics firm Graphika and Stanford’s Internet Observatory, which revealed a series of influence operations aimed at “promoting pro-Western narratives” in countries like Russia, China and Afghanistan.

The report was based on data provided to research organizations by Twitter and Meta, which removed the networks from their respective platforms in July and August, citing their policies on platform manipulation and coordinated inauthentic activity. Although researchers have been unable to conclusively attribute the origin of the associated influence campaigns, the accounts “consistently advanced narratives promoting the interests of the United States and its allies” while referring to news sites supported by the US government and military.

According to Jobthe White House and officials of other federal agencies grew increasingly concerned about the use of clandestine online influence operations in the wake of the report, prompting the review.

Although the US military has long been engaged in psychological operations, or “psyops”, the use of fabricated online personas and fake media is both relatively new and particularly controversial. Data provided by Twitter and Meta showed accounts using AI-generated faces for profile pictures and, in some cases, posing as representatives of fictional independent media organizations.

The tactics are likely to draw unfavorable comparisons with campaigns carried out by entities like the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence services. Disinformation operations have been a cornerstone of Russia’s global power projection, used to spread false and misleading political narratives in the United States, Europe, Ukraine and elsewhere.

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