It sounds like the deranged words of a conspiracy theorist: The U.S. military is (not so) secretly creating software that’ll generate phony online personae in order to subtly influence social media conversations and spread propaganda. But what may sound like wacky theory is actually wacky reality, or at least will soon be, depending on whether it’s already in the works.
Dubbed the “online persona management service,” this technology would enable a single soldier to assume upwards of 10 different identities. As United States Central Command Commander Bill Speaks told The Guardian, “The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.”
Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command. [The Guardian]
Said to be part of the Operation Earnest Voice (OEV) program, a psychological warfare weapon first used in Iraq to counter al-Qaida’s online followers, the goal of this latest project is twofold: To argue against extremist propaganda and to make sure “the world according to the U.S.” is heard. As General James Mattis told a Senate committee: “OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda.” He added that Centcom was working with “our coalition partners” to develop new techniques and tactics the US could use “to counter the adversary in the cyber domain”. Read More
The U.S. Military has been after a vomit-inducing weapon for years. The idea is to use flashing lights that can make an enemy so dizzy, he hurls (and thereby becomes disoriented and unable to fight).
But while the government has sunk millions into creating the perfect spew-ray gun, a couple of hardware hackers recently slapped one together for around $250.
Using a flashlight from Sears, a set of three-dollar LEDs, a nine-volt battery, and a heat sink ripped off a PC processor, they managed to put together a functioning dazzler-cum-vomit-beam. And then they published step-by-step instructions on how you can build one, too.
Click here for the video, if you think your stomach is strong enough.
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