This article – with the relevant parts highlighted below – is here as a reference to this blog post about Aaron and Barrett Brown filing a FOIA together.
Aaron Swartz Filed a FOIA request, in collaboration with Barrett Brown, asking about Persona Management software. (Read the full story here, but here’s the document obtained via Muckrock.)
On the first page of the RFP, it shows its for a $2,760,000 bid (see page 1).
Note that I am not saying this RFP was directly connected to the NY Times article (it probably isn’t) – but it does look like this kind of software:
1) has become commonplace among state actors
2) goes for about 3 million a pop – as both the RFP and the NY Times’ reported that the price of the software was around that price.
The New York Times explains how this kind of software can be used to influence elections, was probably used in the 2016 election.
Rick Gates Sought Online Manipulation Plans From Israeli Intelligence Firm for Trump Campaign
From the article:
After scouring social media accounts and all other available information to compile a dossier on the psychology of any persuadable delegate, more than 40 Psy-Group employees would use “authentic looking” fake online identities to bombard up to 2,500 targets with specially tailored messages meant to win them over to Mr. Trump.
The messages would describe Mr. Cruz’s “ulterior motives or hidden plans,” or they would appear to come from former Cruz supporters or from influential individuals with the same background or ideology as a target…
Each approach would “look authentic and not part of the paid campaign,” the proposal promised. The price tag for the work was more than $3 million…
A third document emphasized “tailored third-party messaging” aimed at minority, suburban female and undecided voters in battleground states. It promised to create and maintain fake online personas that would deliver messages highlighting Mr. Trump’s merits and Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses or revealing “rifts and rivalries within the opposition.”
1. Rick Gates Sought Online Manipulation Plans From Israeli Intelligence Firm for Trump Campaign By By Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman, David D. Kirkpatrick and Maggie Haberman for the New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/08/us/politics/rick-gates-psy-group-trump.html
2. RFP that Aaron Swartz filed while working with Barrett Brown. (Courtesy of Muckrock)