Facebook, Twitter contacted Pentagon concerned about PsyOps: WashPost
Fake accounts that emerged on social media raised concerns in Big Tech.
According to a report by the Washington Post, in 2020, Facebook and Twitter employees contacted the Pentagon to voice concerns regarding fake accounts they believed had ties with the US military.
One Facebook executive, at one point, spoke to the Pentagon's head of influence operations policy, Christopher C miller, who was warned that foreign enemies could discover the origin of the accounts if Facebook could too.
Detecting accounts that Facebook and Twitter suspected to be part of the US military conducting psyops, the two social media giants took down about 150 fake profiles and media sites. Psy-ops are a war tactic used frequently by the US, which, in its turn, has been accusing Russia of doing since 2020.
The Post reported that last week, the undersecretary of defense for policy, Colin Kahl, ordered a full report from the US military regarding its online influence operations to be sent to the White House for review by October. In addition to that, the Biden administration has repeatedly requested that the Pentagon provide more information regarding its psyop policies - or, 'online influence campaigns.'
In 2019, the US Congress gave the green light when it passed Section 1631, which allowed the military to conduct psyops as long as it does not infringe on the CIA's covert authority, knowing that the law exempts such activities from the oversight system.
In August 2022, a report from Graphika and the Standford Internet Observatory was published revealing that suspicious pro-US accounts on Twitter and Meta “created fake personas with GAN-generated faces, posed as independent media outlets, leveraged memes and short-form videos, attempted to start hashtag campaigns, and launched online petitions.”
The campaigns were largely aimed at countries such as Iran or in Central Asia, where there is resistance to US foreign policy.
Many of the topics discussed include "U.S. diplomatic and humanitarian efforts in the region, Russia’s alleged malign influence, Russian military interventions in the Middle East and Africa, and Chinese ‘imperialism’ and treatment of Muslim minorities,” according to the researchers.
Sometimes, the accounts would post content from some media outlets backed by the US State Department, such as Radio Free Europe.