On June 20th, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kartapolov said that the US special services were carrying out psy-ops on the Internet such as “Metal Gear” and “RuNet Echo.”
“The Internet projects of the American special services, such as Graphic, Metal Gear, Echo Runet, aimed at direct manipulation of public consciousness and above all youth, are widely implemented on the Internet,” Kartapalov said.
“A number of programs are being carried out aimed at forming active protest activity and dissatisfaction with the authorities of the country among young people,” he said.
Now, General Kartapolov is being openly mocked, since Metal Gear is also the name of a video game franchise, which was created by infamous game producer Hideo Kojima back in 1987. The game does, in fact, feature some dissatisfaction with governments and such, but mostly with deep state machinations and is not aimed at Russia. Actually, some of the “good guys” are even Russians and are fighting against US deep state “new world order” projects, etc.
English and Russina language mainstream media outlets came with multiple jokes regarding the statement about Metal Gear. Nonetheless, the reality is more complicated.
RuNet Echo is one of the projects of Global Voices Online, which declares its goal to become the leading source of objective, complete and valuable information about the Russian Internet.
And even if indeed a Japanese video game turned out to be a US Special Service psy-op, would that be so surprising – after all US Central Command had an astroturfing campaign aimed at using sockpuppet accounts (not actual people’s hand inside of a sock with eyes drawn on it) to spread pro-American propaganda on social media outside the country.
Regardless, Kartapalov, at the same round table he made his statement, also said that the United States, with the help of Russian artists, politicians and media personalities, is trying to destroy the civilization identity of Russians, and the Russian Federation is surrounded by a network of centers in the territory of NATO countries, whose purpose is “direct discredit of Russia, positioning her as an authoritarian country with a wild ignorant population and power that does not reckon with the norms of international law. “
Which doesn’t appear to fall too far from the truth, rather it’s spot on.
Of course, MSM jumped on the bandwagon starting to mock the General. Clearly, he hasn’t played the Metal Gear game series, and clearly it’s showing that Russia’s “propaganda network” had no idea such a statement would lead to jokes.
The Moscow Times’ article which is widely cited is an especially good example of the quality of Western propaganda though.
Notably, the head screenshot of the article about Metal Gear, shows a screenshot of the game Monster Hunter – which is not part of the franchise and has little to do with the premise or the story whatsoever.
So, they did their “due diligence,” as can be plainly seen. Furthermore, it reports:
“Metal Gear is a popular series of action-adventure games in which the player assumes the role of a special forces operative who searches for the “Metal Gear,” a bipedal tank with the ability to launch nuclear weapons.”
Which was the correct premise of the 1987 game, not for the following 14 games. And the “bipedal tank” was a joke by Hideo Kojima – every few shots of conventional weapons it made, its cockpit opened, and the pilot was completely out in the open for Solid Snake (the main character of the series) to shoot him.
If that was the aim of the US special services, advertising their arsenal of suicidal weapons, then they did a marvelous job.
Furthermore, Kojima’s storyline in the games is much more focused on memes (and not the funny internet ones) and the role of private military contractors in shaping military conflicts, the global military-industrial complex and how it can come to take over the planet.
On a more serious note, Operation Metal Gear is (or was) an alleged US Spy Operation to manipulate Social Media.
“This operation stems from a string of leaked HBGary emails wherein a company by the name of Booz Allen Hamilton, in direct contact with Aaron Barr, is believed to have bid on and successfully won the contract to develop an unnamed software from the US Air Force. This software will be known as “Metal Gear” for informational purposes.
We believe that Metal Gear involves an army of fake cyber personalities immersed in social networking websites for the purposes of manipulating the mass population via influence, crawling information from major online communities (such as Facebook), and identifying anonymous personalities via correlating stored information from multiple sources to establish connections between separate online accounts, using this information to arrest dissidents and activists who work anonymously.
The primary goal of this operation is to find out exactly what metal gear is and why they are developing it.”
So, the Anonymous codenamed the operation “Metal Gear,” but it was actually Operation Earnest Voice, mentioned earlier. Yes, with the “sockpuppets.”
“We codenamed the software that we believe Booz Allen Hamilton and some of their partners are working on.
The nature of the software is partially known, from the documents that we have seen and from what some employees have said it is a software that would allow a single agent to command an ‘army’ of sockpuppet accounts on social networking mediums. It is sophisticated enough to develop a ‘profile’ for each puppet to add a level of ‘realism’ to each. In short, there would be no feasible way to distinguish between 100 people commenting on a subject, and 100 of these puppets doing the same.”
So, who is wrong?
UPDATE (3.07.2019): For the first time, the Metal Gear software was employed from a US Air Force military base in Afghanistan. Later, it was used to influence situation in Russia during the presidential election of 2012.
There are high chances that this software was employed as a technical measure to support US informational operations and informational operations in US interests during riots in Kazakhstan’s Zhanaozen and other developments in the Central Asia region.
Currently, it is possible to say that the Metal Gear of 2011-2012 modifications are a dated measure and lost its applicability. In the modern situation, US special and propaganda forces are using up-to-date means and approaches, which more actively use Big Data and a pseudo artificial intelligence.
In the context of modern approaches of informational warfare, bots in Social Media lost a notable part of their significance. At the same time, the importance of analysis and simulation of information from open sources (Social Media, email services and other global services collecting personal data) grew.
It is important to note the simulation of informational landscape as an effective tool of manipulation. In other words, some data is intentionally released and then used with factual information to gate a story shaped in favor of the actor.
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