Saturday, October 3rd 2015
"[A]utocracies are deploying "trolls" -- robotic feeds or paid commentators -- to sway social media trends," noted cybersecurity and homeland security systems expert Aliya Sternstein, writing for the Defense One website on August 17, 2015.
When Facebook posts and tweets blamed Ukrainian rebels for downing a Malaysian jet there last year, U.S. spies studied social media trend lines to gauge public opinion of the Kiev-Moscow conflict.
The number of Facebook “likes”; statistics on retweets and “favorited” tweets; and other social media analytics told one story.
But intelligence officials know that, increasingly, autocracies are deploying “trolls” – robotic feeds or paid commentators – to sway social media trends. So officials say they were cautious when compiling situation assessments.
Such messaging can become dangerous when it casts doubt on ground truth.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper depends on open source information in addition to classified material, to provide American decision-makers with objective information. There is a concern that social media campaigns orchestrated by overseas powers could distort open-source intelligence gathering, some U.S. officials say.
The full article is here.