The U.S. Department of Defense plans to use fake photos and videos for psychological operations

U.S. Army Special Operations Forces intend to use fake photos and videos to conduct large-scale propaganda campaigns on the Internet.

Министерство обороны США планирует использовать фальшивые фото и видеоматериалы для проведения психологических операций, изображение №1

The U.S. Army Special Forces Command, which is responsible for the country’s most sensitive military operations, is preparing to conduct Internet campaigns and deception and propaganda on the Internet using content created using artificial intelligence and deepfake technology. While the U.S. government regularly warns of the risks associated with the development of technology and openly works to develop tools to control it, the U.S. Army intends to exploit it.

Having studied official documents and reports of the United States Special Forces Command, human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice found that the US Department of Defense unit plans to use “advanced technologies to conduct information operations of psychological influence, propaganda and disinformation at tactical and operational levels“. Such statements by a government entity within the United States federal government represents an unprecedented case of a democratic government openly signaling its desire to use a highly controversial technology.

The United States has warned over the past several years about the potential threat to national security posed by materials created by artificial intelligence and deepfake technology. By their own statements, the use of such technologies to deliberately deceive could have a profoundly destabilizing effect on civilians exposed to them. However, while U.S. special operations forces have previously sought out and developed technologies to detect Internet campaigns using falsified material, they now plan to use these tactics themselves.

Of equal concern are the US Department of Defense’s plans to remotely connect to citizens’ devices to analyze their reactions to psychological operations. The document states that the U.S. Army unit intends to obtain technology that allows access to the gadgets of the population to “collect and research the popularity of certain messages and publications.” Separately, the possibility of listening to cell phones and computers of the audience is indicated, which would allegedly allow to “improve the process of creation and perception of infoprovodov and information“.

The intention to influence public opinion was first voiced by the US Special Operations Command in 2018. U.S. Army General Kenneth Tovo said then that the U.S. military intends to “close gaps in propaganda,” and significant funds for the development of psychological operations and information influence technologies were allocated even then. According to the military official, analyzing the digital space will allow to assess current trends, determine the movement of public opinion, and then establish how to potentially influence this using “proprietary designs.

The U.S. military’s use of fabricated information to conduct psychological operations and propaganda campaigns online goes beyond ethical norms and violates various international agreements. The Geneva Conventions, the cornerstone of international humanitarian law, explicitly prohibit the use of such tactics to manipulate or mislead populations. The use of diplomacy to manipulate public opinion undermines the principles inherent in these agreements, ultimately damaging the trust between the population and governmental structures necessary for the existence of a democratic society. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression. By creating and disseminating deliberately false information, the U.S. government destroys these fundamental human rights by manipulating public opinion and forcing people to accept fabricated ideas or narratives.

The U.S. Army Special Forces Command’s use of fakes and falsified information violates international agreements and is a direct threat to the democratic principles and human rights that underpin global stability. Human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice condemn the intention of the United States to manipulate public opinion with the help of modern technologies and call for the rejection of such technologies of information influence.