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The software generates false IP addresses that are not linked to the U.S. military, thus making them appear to originate from specified parts of the world, the documents stated.

“The service includes a user-friendly application environment to maximize the user’s situational awareness by displaying real-time local information,” the document said, a reference to information it can generate about the time, weather and local news in the pretend location of the fake persona.

The growth of a single global information culture and the growing ubiquity of the Internet pose challenges for U.S. military psy-ops warriors who are barred by law and policy from targeting U.S. audiences.

Traditional information operations such as leaflets can be dropped on enemy troops, making it easy to exclude U.S. audiences. “Leaflets don’t blow across the world,” said Isaac R. Porche, a researcher at the RAND Corp. who has written about information operations. “That’s not the case” with Internet communications, he added.

“Cyberspace doesn’t have borders,” he said.

The issue is further complicated by the most popular social media sites that are owned and operated by U.S. companies that enjoy many of the same rights and protections as citizens under U.S. law.

The social networking site Facebook, for example, says that any effort to create false identities is a violation of the terms of service agreement required of all users.

“Facebook has always been based on a real-name culture,” spokesman Andrew Noyes said. “It’s a violation of our policies to use a fake name or operate under a false identity, and we encourage people to report anyone they think is doing this.”

He said the company had a special team that reviews these reports and “takes action as necessary.”

Cmdr. Speaks said the Central Command program operates only on overseas social media sites.

“We do not target U.S. audiences, and we do not conduct these activities on sites owned by U.S. companies,” he said.

But restrictions like these placed on information operations are sometimes irksome to the troops carrying them out, Mr. Porche said.

“At the lowest echelon of the actual operators,” he said, “there are complaints there that there’s too many hoops they have to jump through. … In a firefight, if you’re shot at, you return fire immediately. … The people who have to do the missions are always the ones who want to move the fastest.”

But Mr. Porche said the limitations on “returning fire” in information operations were necessary. “You can’t just unleash an operation. It has to be coordinated.

“There are a lot of checks and balances,” he said.

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