The Pentagon is reportedly reviewing its information warfare operations after social media companies cracked down on pro-U.S. influence operations that may have ties to the U.S. government.
The Defense Department ordered its military command, which conducts psychological operations, to provide details of its activities by next month after Biden administration officials raised concerns, The Washington Post reported Monday.
The internal scrutiny of government psychiatrists comes after Twitter and Meta cracked down on pro-U.S. influence operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, as detailed in a Stanford Internet Observatory report.
Social media companies removed a network of accounts in July and August to coordinate inauthentic behavior and platform manipulation, according to a report last month by Stanford University and social media analytics firm Graphika.
“Our joint investigation found a network of interconnected accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and five other social media platforms that used deceptive tactics to promote pro-Western rhetoric in the Middle East and Central Asia,” the company said. . “The datasets from these platforms appear to cover a range of covert activities over nearly five years, rather than a single operation.”
Stanford and Graphika have not formally identified who is responsible for the influence, and Renée DiResta, research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, told The Washington Times that her team did not have enough information.
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Meta said the campaign originated in the U.S., and Twitter identified the U.S. and U.K. as its putative countries of origin.
U.S. Central Command is reportedly one of the U.S. government actors facing scrutiny of social media activity.
The Defense Department previously admitted to researching social media to better understand foreign influence operations spreading online.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said last year that it was supporting researchers producing algorithms and collecting tweets, memes, blog posts and political ads for the “Influence Movement Awareness and Meaning-Building” program.
The project’s manager, Brian Kettler, said at the time that the government’s goal was to create the tools necessary to provide “early warning” of foreign influence.
The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment. Twitter declined to comment on the Pentagon review.