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Fox News Swayed Public Opinion Using Online Sock Puppets

Alex Constantine - October 22, 2013

Also see: "HBGary, Palantir, Prism, Facebook & The Industrial Surveillance Complex"

"A Campaign to Smear WikiLeaks Supporters"

There's a strange subterranean world where Fox News and military intelligence meets, and that's in the comments section.

Utilizing something called sock puppets — fake social media or Internet personas — Fox's public relations specialists were allegedly expected to counter "negative" or "even neutral" commentary on posts about the network, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik claims in his forthcoming book, "Murdoch's World."

They even reportedly used common counterintelligence tactics in order to mask their cyber footsteps.

Liberal Media watchdog Media Matters highlighted one paragraph in particular that sums up the  practice:

"One former staffer recalled using twenty  different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several  employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless  broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp  account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread  broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins.  Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor  followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked."

Oddly enough, the Air Force contracted HBGary Federal to develop a more sophisticated tool that would allow military  intelligence operatives to manipulate several fake personas simultaneously. The  tool was used in order gather intel on potential terrorists, but also, like Fox, to sway public opinion in (albeit it foreign) online communities.

The NYPD even uses fake personas to bust criminals. And, hilariously enough, the Taliban pretends to be hot chicks to scoop information from hot dogging Aussie soldiers.

Take note, that is probably the first time that Fox News, the Air Force, the  NYPD, and the Taliban all occupy the same subset of company SOP.

Hopefully it's the last.


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