For years the conspiracy theorists have claimed that Facebook is a CIA front operation, and that it serves as a way to track everyone in the USA. In the most recent years, especially from the time of the 2016 Presidential elections to now, Facebook, Twitter, Google and other platforms which allow social media have been charged with being biased and “against” the posting and activities of people who dissent with the way the government and powers-that-be want you to think.
Today we find some rather clear evidence that the US Army wants to truly have access to private citizen accounts in social media, and they want to have the tools to observe AND post things in the same idiom and style, apparently, as though it were you making the posts. We appear to be somewhere beyond the tinfoil hat stage now.
So, who is hacking whom now?
Here we show excerpts from the request made by INSCOM (The United States Army Intelligence and Security Command). The boldface type is mine for emphasis. First, we look at the purpose of INSCOM:
INSCOM has an Administrative Control (ADCON) relationship with 1st Information Operations Command. INSCOM G7 executes materiel and materiel-centric responsibilities as a Capability Developer and as the Army proponent for design and development of select operational level and expeditionary intelligence, cyber, and electronic warfare systems. 1st Information Operations Command (Land) provides IO and Cyberspace Operations support to the Army and other Military Forces through deployable support teams, reachback planning and analysis, specialized training, and a World Class Cyber OPFOR in order to support freedom of action in the Information Environment and to deny the same to our adversaries.
Then we look at what they are asking for. Again, the bold typeface is my own addition for emphasis.
Additional Info: This RFI requests a vendor service and not hardware/firmware/software, and therefore should not require an Authority to Operate (ATO) or a Certificate of Networthiness (CoN). 1st IO Command has identified areas for which we are requesting White Papers from Industry on mature COTS solutions with a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of at least 7, relevant to the following Focus Areas and requirements:
0001: Content Translation of PAI
A. Capability to translate foreign language content (message text, voice, images, etc.) from the social media environment into English. Required languages are Arabic, French, Pashtu, Farsi, Urdu, Russian, and Korean.
B. Identify specific audiences through reading and understanding of colloquial phrasing, spelling variations, social media brevity codes, and emojis.
1. Automated capability for machine learning of foreign language content with accuracy comparable to Google and Microsoft Bing Translate. Must be able to incrementally improve over time.
2. Recognize language dialect to ensure effectual communication.
0002: Automated Sentiment Analysis (SA)
A. Capability to derive sentiment from all social media content.
1. At minimum, distinguish negative, neutral, and positive sentiment based on collective, contextual understanding of the specific audience.
a) Capability to determine anger, pleasure, sadness, and excitement.
2. Capability to recognize local colloquial and/or slang terms and phrases, spelling variations, social media brevity codes, capitalization, and emojis will be included.
3. Automated machine learning of SA must be able to incrementally improve over time.
a) Software should allow for heuristic updates to improve overall capability; e.g., manually suggest updates based on personal knowledge and experience.
B. Capability to suggest whether specific audiences could be influenced based on derived sentiment.
0003: Content Generation Based off of PAI
A. Capability to translate English into Arabic, French, Pashtu, Farsi, Urdu, Russian, and Korean.
B. Automated capability to generate/create at least three, and up to 10, unique statements derived from one (1) original social media statement, while retaining the meaning and tone of the original.
1. Customize language in a dialect consistent with a specific audience including spelling variations, cultural variations, colloquial phrasing, and social media brevity codes and emojis.
1. Capability to continually inform MOE with/through sentiment analysis, content generation, and new target audience content.
2. Capability for end user to extract empirical data and visualize metrics of service, including number of content samples translated, number of content samples generated, number of content samples downloaded, number of conversations influenced by generated content, etc.
0005: Data Protection and Management
Data protection will meet all standing DoD regulatory and security protocols.
This is a formidable request for a quite powerful eavesdropping AND propaganda disseminating application. It is also not the first time the military has sought or deployed such an application. The Guardian reported that the US Military had software in use six years ago that was able to create propaganda videos that used fake online personas. Now it appears that the military wants to piggyback – or hijack – REAL people’s accounts to do a similar purpose.
Is this helpful? Is this the proper way to conduct this kind of warfare? The military establishment appears to think so. However, this author has concerns about the privacy rights of American citizens, including the right to disagree, vehemently with the policies and directions taken by the government. We are a representative republic, and that means the government is supposed to work FOR us, not “take care of us.”
This last, of course, is a problem we Americans have gotten ourselves into by ceding personal responsibility to think for ourselves, and to gradually come to think of Uncle Sam as, really, some kind of uncle that takes care of us. But that was never the intention of the founders of this land, and truly, we have only ourselves and our laziness to blame for the military thinking that they can exercise this kind of power against any one of us.