An alarming report by Sean Kerrigan via Patriot Network shows that the U.S. government is offering private intelligence companies contracts to create software to manage “fake people” on social media sites and create the illusion of consensus on controversial issues.

According to Kerrigan, the contract calls for the development of “Persona Management Software,” which would help the user create and manage a variety of distinct fake profiles online. The job listing was discussed in recently leaked emails from the private security firm HBGary after an attack by an Internet activist last week.

Click here to view the government contract (PDF).

Kerrigan reports that according to the contract, the software would “protect the identity of government agencies” by employing a number of false signals to convince users that the poster is in fact a real person. A single user could manage unique background information and status updates for up to 10 fake people from a single computer.

The software enables the government to shield its identity through a number of different methods, including the ability to assign unique IP addresses to each persona and the ability to make it appear as though the user is posting from other locations around the world.

Included in HBGary’s leaked e-mails was a government proposal for the government contract. The document describes how they would ‘friend’ real people on Facebook as a way to convey government messages.

Contract performance will be at MacDill AFB, Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad, Iraq. Is this being used in the propaganda battle against our enemies?

Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs speculates this activity is tied to the re-election campaign for Obama 2012, “and so the propaganda and the manipulation of opinion is full on. His people are creating ‘fake people’ to redirect ‘dialogue’ online.”

We’ll keep an eye on this. Look for developments in future Surfin’ Safari columns.

The Internet is impacting the ability of governments – totalitarian and otherwise – to conduct business as usual, especially as today’s citizen social media informs the rest of the world of unfolding events. No longer can despotic regimes control the flow information and images, which are now easily transmitted via cell phone cameras, Twitter, Facebook and other social network sites.

For example, similar to what we saw in Egypt, reports out of Libya last week said that in response to anti-government protests, Muammar Gaddafi sporadically shut down electricity access and access to Internet connections. User access to Facebook was blocked in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, but Twitter reportedly was not affected. Al Jazeera Telecomix offered a free dialup number to Libyans who are having trouble connecting.

Domains ending with the suffix .ly, were shut down by the Gaddafi regime in an effort to control Libya’s domain suffix, but it also shut down url shorteners, and

In Bahrain, where protests continue, Internet traffic data suggested that access to many websites had been restricted, with a 10 to 20-percent drop in Internet traffic into and out of Bahrain.

The novelty cell phone camera of just a few years ago is now the world’s eyes and ears, especially throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

“For some of the protesters facing Bahrain’s heavily armed security forces in and around Pearl Square in Manama, the most powerful weapon against shotguns and tear gas has been the tiny camera inside their cell phones,” wrote the New York Times.

Traditional news organizations are now using those images: “YouTube is using Storyful, a news aggregation site, to help manage the tens of thousands of videos that have been uploaded from the Middle East in recent weeks and to highlight notable ones on the CitizenTube channel.

The Los Angeles Times provided overall coverage with observations from Iraq, Iran, Israel and the Arab world from its correspondents and the Carnegie Middle East Center in Babylon & beyond.

Michael Ledeen discusses how revolutionaries communicated before the age of social media.

New media outpaces old media in Madison, Wisc.

Closer to home, citizen journalists were quick to capture and upload video and images of physicians signing and handing out “missed work” excuses for Wisconsin teachers who played hooky to demonstrate at their State Capitol.

The new media outreported the demonstrations, and in one instance, Rockford, Ill. tea-party coordinator David Hale caught two of Wisconsin’s state senators who crossed the state line to escape a vote on the controversial public service union vote. The video, uploaded to YouTube and to the Rockford Tea Party’s Facebook website, attracted 46,000 views in its first day and was aired on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program.

Breaking the news well ahead of the traditional media with real-time Tweets, photos, videos and on-site postings were bloggers Ace of Spades, Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media, Jonathan Tobin’s “Civility Watch: Wisconsin Dems and Unions Cross the Line”, Don Surber, Doug Ross at Director Blue, Stacy McCain at The Other McCain, Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit, Vanderleun at American Digest, Weasel Zippers, Althouse and Michelle Malkin.

After news broke that Hale confronted the senators at the Clock Tower Motel & Resort, I contacted him and invited him to appear on my radio show. During the interview, Hale recounted the event and his involvement in the controversy. During the interview, Sal Russo, chief political strategist for the Tea Party Express and Our Country Deserves Better PAC took the time to call in and thank Hale for a job well done.

Listen to the interview on The Andrea Shea King Show.

“Kill switch” eliminated from cyber bill?

Why members of the U.S. Senate would be so confident as to give this president the power to kill the Internet is a mystery to many.

The controversial Cybersecurity and Internet Freedom Act that would give Obama sweeping powers to shut off portions of the Internet under cyber-attack has been reintroduced in the Senate. According to its advocates, the 221-page bill will protect critical infrastructures that Americans rely on – the power grid, financial systems and water supply, among other things – in the event of a potentially crippling digital assault. And they say it does not give anyone the authority to choke off the Internet with the flick of a so-called “kill switch.”

And I’ve got a bridge in Chicago that’s for sale. Any takers?

Net-Neutrality funding blocked

Kudos to the House of Representatives, which passed an amendment last week that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from using any funding to implement the network-neutrality order it approved in December.

If the defunding effort fails in the Senate, House Republicans are pursuing a second option: a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which gives lawmakers a limited amount of time to try to block the FCC’s net-neutrality rules.

China not pleased with U.S. policy on Internet freedom

In a seemingly inconsistent Internet policy, last week the State Department’s Hillary Clinton said U.S. taxpayers will cough up $25 million to sponsor a new Obama administration policy on Internet freedom. The program will help China’s 450 million Internet users and others circumvent Internet restrictions.

“The United States continues to help people in oppressive Internet environments get around filters, stay one step ahead of the censors, the hackers and the thugs who beat them up or imprison them for what they say online,” Clinton said in a speech given last week at George Washington University.

China was not happy, saying it was an attempt by the U.S. to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries. Not surprisingly, Clinton’s speech did not get much coverage in China, and censors promptly removed blog posts on the subject sent out by the United States Embassy in Beijing.

Meanwhile, some 1.5 million Facebook users have figured out how to climb over China’s Internet firewall.

Obama’s high tech mystery dinner

Under the guise of reaching out to businesses, President Obama last week lifted a glass to the mutual success of technology and the advances they will achieve in wiring the world.

The mysterious closed-door session at the home of John Doerr, a partner at a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm with twelve Silicon Valley technology leaders included Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook; Steve Jobs, the ailing head of Apple; John Hennessy, the president of Stanford University; Carol Bartz, president and CEO, Yahoo!; John Chambers, CEO and chairman, Cisco Systems; Art Levinson, chairman and former CEO, Genentech; Oracle founder and chief executive Larry Ellison, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings; Twitter CEO Dick Costolo; and Steve Westly, managing partner and founder of The Westly Group.

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate, they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” – George Orwell, “1984”

Revolutionary “results” – Beck v. Google

“Fox News commentator Glenn Beck has put Google Inc. in his rhetorical cross hairs,” Tech reporter Dave Sarno at the Los Angeles Times reported on the popular radio and TV host’s skepticism about search giant Google, employer of Wael Ghonim, “the marketing executive who “emerged as a figurehead of the recent political uprising in Egypt, at one point saying he was “ready to die” for the cause of freedom. Google has offered Ghonim its support. But support was not as immediately forthcoming from Beck.”

Why is Beck suspicious? Conversely, why is Google’s CEO proud of Ghonim?

Bits ‘n bytes

IBM’s “Watson” dominates humanoids on Jeopardy!

Watson’s successor in development.

Health-care industry considered for Watson-level intelligence.
iSchool initiative–say goodbye to textbooks?

And say “goodbye” to this teacher for now – rants about students on her blog.

Groupies can connect with favorite bands – Tweetlouder!

Twitter launches war with competing apps.

Why haven’t you switched to #newTwitter? Twitter wants to know.

Facebook cheered for including new relationship status options. It’s a sign of the times?

A site redesign that’s driving people away.

The Bleacher Reportfans are flocking to it!

Inbox out of control? Taskforce will help you organize.

The time capsule

1943 – AAGSL chartered, “Rockford Peaches” emerge

1945 – U.S. Flag raised at Iwo Jima

1954 – U.S. detonates largest man-made explosion in Pacific

1964 – Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston

1986 – Sweden’s PM Olof Palme assassinated

1993 – World Trade Center bombed

Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Cheryl Townsend of North Attleboro, Mass., and Tom Pickett of Suffern, N.Y., who were among the first to correctly guess actor Marilyn Monroe in her portrayal of Sugar Kane Kowalczyk in the Oscar-winning film “Some Like It Hot.” Directed by Billy Wilder, the film also starred Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as two struggling musicians who witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and try to find a way out of the city before they are found and killed by the mob.

The quote: “Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.”

This week’s quote: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard … is what makes it great.”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.