NATO Group Catfished Soldiers to Prove a Point About Privacy
The scheme measured how social media manipulation influences real-world actions
The phony Facebook pages looked just like the real thing. They were designed to mimic pages that service members use to connect. One appeared to be geared toward a large-scale, military exercise in Europe and was populated by a handful of accounts that appeared to be real service members.
In reality, both the pages and the accounts were created and operated by researchers at NATO’s Strategic Communications Center of Excellence, a research group that's affiliated with NATO. They were acting as a "red team" on behalf of the military to test just how much they could influence soldiers’ real-world actions through social media manipulation.
The group "attempted to answer three questions,” Nora Biteniece, a software engineer who helped design the project, told WIRED. “The first question is, What can we find out about a military exercise just from open source data? What can we find out about the participants from open source data? And, can we use all this data to influence the participants’ behaviors against their given orders?”
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