The Pentagon Investigated Lady Gaga’s Tweets. WTF, DARPA?

After the Edward Snowden affair broke, everyone in the US intelligence and security community swore up and down that no one was spying on the cyber lives of ordinary people.  We knew that was bullshit then and we know that it’s still bullshit.

A report in The Guardian this week tells of how DARPA–the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s research division–was funded to analyse tweets send out by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and other celebrities.

Wait–what?  Why would government scientist-spooks do something like this?

This study was all part of something called the Social Media in Strategic Communication program, which was set up to look at “linguistic cues, patterns of information flow and detection of sentiment or opinion in information generated and spread through social media.”   From Mashable:

study by Georgia tech researchers titled “Cues to Deception in Social Media Communications” concluded that social media networks are good tools for spreading false information through deceptive breaking news updates. The study was not conducted by manipulating Facebook’s News Feeds, but with volunteers using a fake social network called “FaceFriend.” But it’s easy to see how influencing real social media use might be useful for the U.S. government or its allies.

This may seem awfully silly, but it’s not.  It’s just indicative of how government authorities are seeking to understand and perhaps control social media interactions.  And you thought that the Facebook mood manipulation thing was weird.

Meanwhile, the CIA could use some help.  They admit that no matter how hard they try, they just can’t find Tupac.


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