Questioning the Phony World of Social Media

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For a species so smart, human beings have a pretty devastating record in regards to making mistakes. The same has been proven time and time again throughout our history, with each testimony practically forcing us to look for a defensive cover. We will, on our part, find the most fitting answer to our conundrum once we bring dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined authority across each and every area was a game-changer, as it wasted no time in giving us a protective cushion against our many shortcomings. However, the utopia to emerge here was pretty short-lived, and if we are to tell you why, it was all technology’s fault. You see, the moment technology and its layered nature were allowed to take over the scene; it created an unprecedented chance for people to fulfil their ulterior motives at the expense of others. In case this wasn’t bad enough in itself, the whole runner started to materialize on such a huge scale that it expectantly overwhelmed our governing forces and sent them back to drawing board. After spending a long time in the wilderness, though, the regulators’ contingent finally seems ready to make a comeback. The same has turned more and more evident over the recent past, and Pentagon’s latest request might just make the dynamic a lot stronger moving forward.

According to the Washington Post, Pentagon officials have ordered a a sweeping review of US information warfare operations conducted through social media platforms. The order follows up on a study done by social network analysis firm Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory where they discovered a string of influence operations that aimed to “promote pro-Western narratives” in countries like Russia, China, and Afghanistan. Talk about the study a bit more; it was based on a report from Twitter and Meta, the two platforms that identified, on an individual level, networks of fake accounts believed to be connected to the US military. Now, while the platforms have since removed these accounts on the grounds of their own policy against “platform manipulation and spam”, Colin Kahl, undersecretary for policy at the Department of Defense, has shared an intention to gauge the extent to which the stated campaigns had gone. The mandated review will seemingly look to gain an insight into what types of online influence operations have been enacted, using what tools, who is being targeted, and most importantly, how effective these social media campaigns have been.

Another fact worth noting here is that, even though Pentagon seems to take this case quite seriously, the agency is yet to develop any specific rules against psychological operations using false information to preach their message. Hence, what action they might take following their investigation is something that remains to be seen.

“Pentagon policy and doctrine discourage the military from peddling falsehoods, but there are no specific rules mandating the use of truthful information for psychological operations. For instance, the military sometimes employs fiction and satire for persuasion purposes, but generally the messages are supposed to stick to facts,” a Pentagon official said.

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