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Is the Pentagon spreading misinformation on Twitter?

An official said Tuesday that the US Department of Defense has initiated a review of its psychological warfare activities following the discovery of bogus accounts on social media propagating pro-West disinformation.

Following a Washington Post story that social media giants Facebook and Twitter have shut down a number of bogus accounts suspected of being created by the US military, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder acknowledged the review.

Ryder did not confirm or deny that the military was behind the bogus accounts and stated that the evidence was still being reviewed.

He warned against presuming that the accounts were the work of the Defense Department, leaving open the possibility that another government entity was involved.

He described the assessment as “an chance for us to analyse ongoing activity in this field.”

The Washington Post mentioned Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory’s research last month on pro-Western covert influence activities.

According to the study, Twitter and Facebook parent Meta terminated roughly 150 US and UK-origin accounts engaged in “inauthentic behaviour” in July and August.

After researching the accounts, the Graphika-Stanford investigation identified an interconnected web of accounts on eight social media platforms that had been employing “deceptive tactics” to push pro-Western narratives throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.

According to the report, the accounts were obtained through a succession of campaigns over a five-year period rather than through a single attempt.

According to the report, the accounts “consistently supported narratives promoting the interests of the United States and its allies while opposing countries such as Russia, China, and Iran.”

The Washington Post, citing anonymous government sources, linked at least some of the activity to the Pentagon and stated that officers of the US Central Command, which handles operations in the Middle East, were “under inquiry.”

Ryder stated that the military’s psychological operations, also known as “military information support operations,” are structured and legal, and are intended to support field efforts.

“These are not public relations activities,” he explained.”It’s a part of combat as old as warfare itself,” he told reporters. “We perform those activities in support of national security interests.”

He stated that military deception operations were critical during WWII and are now an essential part of the warfighting toolbox.

“There are chances in conducting operations against enemies where you may want to use information in a way that will make them think a certain way — not true information,” he explained.

“What I would emphasise is that they must be carried out in accordance with US law and Defense Department policy, and we have protections in place and are dedicated to upholding those safeguards,” he said.