The US military awarded a contract for software to create 500 fake personas on social networks in order to secretly influence online debate in its favour, it has been reported.
The $2.76m contract was won by Ntrepid, a Californian firm, and called for an "online persona management service" that would enable 50 military spies to manage 10 fake identities each.
The personas should be "replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent", a US Central Command (Centcom) tender document said.
It added: "Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries.
"Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms."