The US has a chance to move on from a history of clandestine foreign policy – instead it acts like a clumsy spammer
The Guardian, 17 March 2011
The US government’s plan to use technology to create and manage fake identities for social interaction with terrorists is as appalling as it is amusing. It’s appalling that in this era of greater transparency and accountability brought on by the internet, the US of all countries would try to systematise sock puppetry. It’s appallingly stupid, for there’s little doubt that the fakes will be unmasked. The net result of that will be the diminution, not the enhancement, of American credibility.
But the effort is amusing as well, for there is absolutely no need to spend millions of dollars to create fake identities online. Any child or troll can do it for free. Millions do. If the government insists on paying, it can use salesforce.com to monitor and join in chats. There is no shortage of social management tools marketers are using to find and mollify or drown out complainers. There’s no shortage of social-media gurus, either.
Phi Beta Iota: Neither NSA nor the Cyber-Command know what they are doing. Their careerist managers are going along with acquisitions completely clueless about the inputs, the context, or the outcomes. Spending money is the measure of their power, and that is the sum of all that is wrong with the US Government. For a far more interesting discussion of sock puppetry, see YouTube Sex with Pilots vs. Intelligence Officers. We are creating a new category, IO Idiocy. This is the first entry, but retrospectively the Air Force threats to family on Wikileaks, and the deactivation of USB ports, are both in this category as well.