By no means would I suggest that the epistemological implications of this story are its most noteworthy features. But it does have noteworthy epistemological implications.
Weirdly, the US Air Force is involved with the private security firm HBGary to deploy software that would create “fictitious personas” on social media sites, such as Facebook, presumably to manipulate public opinion — as if there weren’t enough of that already!
As the Raw Story reporter notes, this has at least two potentially troubling skeptical consequences. First, it (further) empowers shadowy elements of the military-industrial complex “to create the illusion of consensus,” thereby preventing us from knowing what the prevailing opinion is on current affairs. It also leaves us wondering whether we know that our “friends” are “even real people.” Obviously this latter worry wouldn’t prevent you from knowing that, say, your mom or colleagues are real. But it might apply to any “friend” you can’t put a face to.
All of this of course raises the question of whether a more appropriate name might be ‘Face(less)book’.