Turn-key sockpuppet software

Paul Raven @ 18-02-2011

Here’s another interesting peripheral nugget from the HBGary Federal fallout, courtesy some pseudonymous and doubtless unpaid person on HuffPo who’s been digging through the Anonymous email dump:

As I also mentioned yesterday, in some of the emails, HB Gary people are talking about creating “personas”, what we would call sockpuppets. This is not new. PR firms have been using fake “people” to promote products and other things for a while now, both online and even in bars and coffee houses.

But for a defense contractor with ties to the federal government, Hunton & Williams, DOD, NSA, and the CIA –  whose enemies are labor unions, progressive organizations,  journalists, and progressive bloggers,  a persona apparently goes far beyond creating a mere sockpuppet.

According to an embedded MS Word document found in one of the HB Gary emails, it involves creating an army of sockpuppets, with sophisticated “persona management” software that allows a small team of only a few people to appear to be many, while keeping the personas from accidentally cross-contaminating each other. Then, to top it off, the team can actually automate some functions so one persona can appear to be an entire Brooks Brothers riot online.

Cue lots of what I’m coming to recognise as the default tone of US leftists, namely “embattled panic”:

I wanted to make this clear because it is in the interests of government and propagandists, and anyone else who wants this story to go away to try and blow all this off as one little company who wrote a proposal no one even read and who isn’t even competent enough to protect its own servers so no one should pay any attention at all to what they were up to.

That is the narrative being spun, even here on this site, and it is entirely fictitious.

We are under attack. And the attackers are damn good at what they do. Pretending they’re not, or that this isn’t happening isn’t going to make it better.

Sunlight as best disinfectant… well, we can hope so, anyway. This chap (or chapess) seems to have missed a chance to deconstruct his own metanarrative at the same time (paint yourself as a footsoldier in the trenches, and you’ll hear the whistle of shells pretty quickly), but that’s a hard gig to play for anyone who’s only just realised that the kraken are battling beneath the waves.

Or maybe I’m just getting hardened to these revelations through overexposure; my first reaction to reading that piece was “what took them so long?” Given that the FBI is cheerfully making public requests to Congress for backdoor access to a whole raft of social media tools, one can assume that they’ve got a fair few already, and would like them enshrined in a framework of legality so they can use them properly…

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “Turn-key sockpuppet software”

  1. Hammy Havoc says:

    Here’s hoping that this software never finds it’s way into the hands of the general public because all hell would break out, especially with the growing numbers of scriptkiddies.