US disinformation accounts exposed: Pentagon launches investigation

While Twitter and Facebook suspended more than 150 accounts they found to belong to a network that campaigned for disinformation in favor of the US, the US Department of Defense also launched an investigation.

The Pentagon took action after Twitter and Facebook suspended more than 150 accounts in August that were identified as belonging to an internationally disinformation network favoring the United States.

Undersecretary for Defense Policy Colin Kahl launched an investigation into the activities of all units conducting military information operations.

The Pentagon was not informed about the closed accounts.

Pentagon Spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder answered questions about Kahl’s review order at the daily press conference. Ryder argued that Facebook and Twitter did not provide any information to the Pentagon about the closed accounts, but that this disclosure was an opportunity for the Ministry to scrutinize military information operations.

Psychological warfare activities will be “reconsidered”

Also as psychological warfare activities “military information support operations” Ryder, who said that the ways of doing business of the units that carry out the work, will be reviewed, explained that the psychological warfare activities are not carried out by the public relations unit of the US army, but by the units that are employed within and outside the army.

“Psychological operations comply with US law”

Ryder used the following statements:

“Military information support operations, formerly known as psychological operations, are a Department of Defense capability. It is an element of warfare at least as old as the war itself. We engage these operations in the context of our international priorities. I should emphasize here that these are carried out in accordance with US law and Ministry of Defense policies, and that there is an oversight mechanism to ensure this.”

US disinformation accounts exposed: Pentagon launches investigation #2

“Psychological warfare activities can be deceptive”

Stating that these operations are used in US operations abroad, Ryder also drew attention to the fact that these psychological warfare activities may contain deception when necessary. ryder, “There are opportunities in these operations to make the enemy think with certain information that is not true.” he said.

Stating that the leaders or people of the enemy country are targeted in such operations, Sözcü claimed that it is sometimes used to combat disinformation.

Brigadier General Ryder noted that, like other military operations, US psychological warfare operations can be carried out within the framework of planning, as well as out of planning depending on the mission and the country where the operation will be carried out.

US disinformation accounts exposed: Pentagon launches investigation #3

More than 150 accounts and disinformation to many countries exposed

In August, Twitter and Facebook detected two networks of accounts with overlapping content and violating the platforms’ terms of use, and suspended more than 150 linked accounts.

A joint review of the two companies later found that these account networks operate on 5 more platforms, including Instagram, in addition to Facebook and Twitter.

US disinformation accounts exposed: Pentagon launches investigation #4

Sharing detected in many languages

While it was determined that the accounts shared in many languages, especially Russian, Chinese, Urdu, Persian, and organized social media campaigns mainly for Russia, China, Iran and Central Asian countries, both companies did not specify which US institution they directly linked these accounts to.

Twitter examined 146 accounts with a total of 299 thousand 566 posts between 2012 and 2022, while Facebook examined 39 personal accounts, 16 pages, 2 groups and 26 Instagram accounts.

As a result of the investigation, it was determined that these accounts consisted of two intricate groups, one group showing the features of the US administration’s public information campaign known as the Interregional Media Initiative, while the other group had hidden and undetected features.

US disinformation accounts exposed: Pentagon launches investigation #5

Mainly Russian-speaking countries targeted

Stanford University Cyber ​​Policy Center, which focused on the closed accounts, determined in the report it prepared that while these accounts shared against Russia in Central Asian countries where the Russian language is used extensively, they highlighted the US aid to Central Asian countries.

fake about Central Asia news and photos posted

On the other hand, it was stated that the propaganda that China is oppressing Muslim minorities, especially Uyghurs, in these countries is widely made by these accounts.

In the report, it was noted that these groups in Central Asia carried out social media campaigns and petition gathering activities with fake news, fake photos and fake accounts.

US disinformation accounts exposed: Pentagon launches investigation #6

Pro-US posts against Russia

It was stated that these groups, which target Russia in the Middle East and Africa continent as well as Central Asia, highlight the positive posts about the US army’s operations in Syria, while it is stated that Russia is sharing the massacre of civilians here.

In the report, it was stated that these accounts also organized campaigns to organize protests and social media campaigns against the governments of many countries whose administrations are in conflict with the USA, as well as Russia, Iran, China.

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