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US is set to audit its online manipulation campaigns

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Last week, Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, ordered a report of the online influence operations by the military for a review by the White House by October, in what appears to be an effort by the Biden administration to stop or, at the very least, account for the extent of such operations – according to a report by The Washington Post.

Back in 2020, The Post reported that Twitter and Facebook employees warned the Pentagon of the existence of fake accounts suspected to be created by the US military. A Facebook executive contacted the Pentagon’s head of influence operations policy, Christopher Miller, about the accounts, noting that foreign adversaries are likely to know the origins of the accounts, given that Facebook employees were able to.

The two social media platforms removed about 150 fake profiles, some masquerading as media outlets, that they suspected were created by the military for psychological operations, aka psyops. The US has long accused Russia and China of such operations.

According to reports, the Biden administration has requested the Pentagon provide more information on psyops policies, arguing that the deployment of these operations could undermine the US’s credibility to speak against similar operations by foreign adversaries and justify the social media oversight by governments in countries like India, Nigeria, and Indonesia.

A report released in August by the Stanford Internet Observatory and Graphika revealed the extent pro-Western influence operations.

The report said that the researchers found suspicious pro-Western accounts on Meta’s platforms and Twitter that were, “fake personas with GAN-generated faces, posed as independent media outlets, leveraged memes, and short-form videos, attempted to start hashtag campaigns, and launched online petitions.”

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