They say the software could be used to create false public opinion, so if protests against governments friendly to the U.S. were being organized via Facebook, operatives could generate pro-government posts to counter those against.
This type of software could be used to do background checks on individuals using their social networking accounts, says John Pironti, president of IP Architects, a security consulting firm. It could be used to find information to discredit individuals as well, he says.
It could be used to friend the children of a person being investigated to find out personal information, such as when the family will be vacationing, he says. "This is why social networking is really bad," he says.
The software extends intelligence-gathering techniques that have been used for hundreds of years, Pironti says. Whereas before a spy would wear a physical disguise, now they don false personas. "The techniques aren't new, just the platform is new," he says.
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