The US Central Command (Centcom) has purchased software that creates false online personalities for what it calls “information operations.”
Using the software, one member of the U.S. Military can control up to ten different fake accounts that appear to belong to civilians living in other countries. The government purchased the software from California-based Ntrepid for $2.76 million.
“The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US,” Centcom spokesperson Commander Bill Speaks told The Guardian.
Operations that the software could be used for include countering either disininformation campaigns, military deception, computer network operations or hacking according to the Washington Times .
According to a government document about the “Online Persona Management Service,” each fake profile is “replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent.” Profiles are also masked with IP addresses that make them look like they are being posted from one of several designated locations.
Speaks told the Washington Times that the military would refrain from using fake personalities on platforms that, like Facebook, ban fake profiles in their terms of service.