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Fixing Facts Around The Policy: Is the US Government Manipulating Social Media?

The US government and in particular the State Department have come under some scrutiny — and even been subject to some ridicule — over increasing reliance on "social media" as evidence to back up US foreign policy positions or conclusions about international events. Many find it shocking that a government which spends some $100 billion on a vast and worldwide intelligence network would really pore over YouTube and Twitter to present user-uploaded items as if finished intelligence products.

Most recently, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf yesterday presented the US government's case for Russian involvement in the apparent downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine based on "social media" and "common sense." She also cited unspecific "other information" that the government would not share, but the crux of the case for such a significant conclusion with almost incalculable implications was made by referencing "Tweets" and other, often anonymous, personal communications.
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