A study conducted for the US Army has recommended that bloggers should be recruited for future conflicts.
The Blogs and Military Information Strategy study was prepared two years ago for the Joint Special Operations University, and examined the influence of the blogosphere and how it might be utilised for military purposes.
"Information strategists can consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other persons of prominence already within the target nation, group or community to pass the US message," the report said.
"In this way the US can overleap the entrenched inequalities and make use of preexisting intellectual and social capital.
"Sometimes numbers can be effective; hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering. "
The report acknowledged the high risk nature of such a strategy, since the opportunity for "blowback" is high if the blogger is exposed as being in the pay of the US military.
"Such operations can have a blowback effect, as witnessed by the public reaction following revelations that the US military had paid journalists to publish stories in the Iraqi press under their own names," the report said.
"People do not like to be deceived, and the price of being exposed is lost credibility and trust."
The report authors, James Kinniburgh and Dorothy Denning, suggest that another route would be to "make" a blogger and provide support. In this way the blogger remains independent but pushes a line that could help operations.
As for hostile bloggers the authors suggest that taking a blog down may be counterproductive, since the blog would soon appear on another site hosted in a different country.
- Blogs and Military Information Strategy (Zip file containing PDF)
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