Special Forces Get Social in New Psychological Operation Plan

Posted: January 23, 2012 in NEWS
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Wired
January 22, 2012

The elite forces of the U.S. military think they’ve found a new way to sway opinion in the Pentagon’s preferred directions: a voice-based social networking app that’s a cross between talk radio and Twitter.

The American intelligence and defense communities have become enthralled by the possibilities of social media. They’re looking to use the networks to forecast political unrest, spread friendly messages, spot emerging terror groups — and even predict the next natural disaster. But these efforts have generally tried to leverage existing, and already popular, civilian social networks.

A new project from U.S. Special Operations Command, on the other hand, looks to create something brand new: a “user-generated social media radio application powered by the human voice, available on the PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, and Nokia smart phones, that lets users share their thoughts and experiences.” And this voice-activated SOCOM network is being billed explicitly as a tool for “military information support operations” — shaping public attitudes. That’s what the Pentagon used to call “psychological operations.”

Earlier this month, SOCOM released its wishlist for technologies it would like in the new year. Items included chemical dyes to track the unsuspecting; hackers’ tools for “data infiltration and exfiltration”; and heap of gadgets to move hearts and minds — including this social media app.

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