In other words, the government is targeting "social media", including popular user-ranked news sites. In addition, when you look at what the Israeli lobby has done with Megaphone software to automatically vote stories questioning Israel down and to send pro-Israel letters to politicians and media (see this, this and this), you can start to see how the U.S. military - an even larger and better-funded organization - could substantially influence voting on social news sites with very little effort.
Moreover, the military has outsourced many projects to private contractors. For example, in Iraq, much of the fighting has been outsourced to Blackwater. And governmental intelligence functions have largely been outsourced to private companies. It is therefore not impossible that the government is hiring cheap labor to downvote stories on the social media sites which question the government, and to post pro-government comments. (Other governments and large companies "astroturf" online as well. See this, this and this.)
I pointed out the same month: "Government propagandists, their hired private contractors and useful idiots are creating "downvote bots" or scripts to bury stories which question the government. One free, simple scripting program to create automatic downvotes of certain topics or news posters is called "Greasemonkey", which is commonly used on large social news sites such as Reddit. For example, there are some 2,480 hits [now past 9,000] for the google search site:reddit.com greasemonkey downvote. This is some 2,480 times that Reddit users are publicly admitting to using greasemonkey (see also this). Propaganda agents obviously aren't going to publicly brag about what they are doing, and you can bet that their use of downvote bots is much greater. Moreover, they probably have more sophisticated software than Greasemonkey."
"Internet users would be well advised to ask another question entirely: Are my "friends" even real people? In the continuing saga of data security firm HBGary, a new caveat has come to light: not only did they plot to help destroy secrets outlet WikiLeaks and discredit progressive bloggers, they also crafted detailed proposals for software that manages online "personas," allowing a single human to assume the identities of as many fake people as they'd like. "Raw Story" reports that the Air Force ordered software to manage an army of fake virtual people: The revelation was among those contained in the company's emails, which were dumped onto bittorrent networks after hackers with cyber protest group "Anonymous" broke into their systems. In another document unearthed by "Anonymous," one of HBGary's employees also mentioned gaming geolocation services to make it appear as though selected fake persons were at actual events. "There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious personas," it said.
Unfortunately, the Air Force's contract description doesn't help dispel their suspicions either. As the text explains, the software would require licenses for 50 users with 10 personas each, for a total of 500. These personas would have to be "replete with background history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent." It continues, noting the need for secure virtual private networks that randomize the operator's Internet protocol (IP) address, making it impossible to detect that it's a single person orchestrating all these posts. Another entry calls for static IP address management for each persona, making it appear as though each fake person was consistently accessing from the same computer each time.
"I don't know about you, but it matters to me what fellow progressives think," the blogger wrote. "I consider all views. And if there appears to be a consensus that some reporter isn't credible, for example, or some candidate for congress in another state can't be trusted, I won't base my entire judgment on it, but it carries some weight. That's me. I believe there are many people though who will base their judgment on rumors and mob attacks. And for those people, a fake mob can be really effective."
"Team Themis" [tasked by the Chamber of Commerce to come up with strategies for responding to progressive bloggers and others] also included a proposal to use malware hacks against progressive organizations, and the submission of fake documents in an effort to discredit established groups. HBGary was also behind a plot by Bank of America to destroy WikiLeaks' technology platform, other emails revealed. The company was humiliated by members of "Anonymous" after CEO Aaron Barr bragged that he'd "infiltrated" the group.
Gaming social media is only one propaganda technique employed by the government:
• Famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein says the CIA has already bought and paid for many successful journalists.
• The New York Times discusses in a matter-of-fact way the use of mainstream writers by the CIA to spread messages
• A 4-part BBC documentary called the "Century of the Self" shows that an American - Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays - created the modern field of manipulation of public perceptions, and the U.S. government has extensively used his techniques.
• The Independent discusses allegations of American propaganda.
• And one of the premier writers on journalism says the U.S. has used widespread propaganda."