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NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse 347

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the flu-nsa-llnl-juarez-waco-plf-hacker-cointelpro dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes with this excerpt from an article by Glenn Greenwald on the pervasiveness of shills poisoning web forums: "One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It's time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.. ... Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the Internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: 'false flag operations' (posting material to the Internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting 'negative information' on various forums." I guess Cryptome was right. Check out the the training materials provided to future forum spies.
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NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse

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  • Fuck Beta! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:09AM (#46332901)

    This message paid for by the NSA.

  • I wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:09AM (#46332905)

    How many of the comments on this article will be from shills?

    • Re:I wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sique (173459) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:16AM (#46332937) Homepage
      If you ask that yourself, the tactics have succeeded halfway already -- seeding mistrust has worked.

      So you should look at the message itself, not at the person you get the message from. If the message contains further tainting of a messenger, it will seed more mistrust. Try to focus on arguments of fact, not arguments of person or source. Then you will weed out most deception.

      • Re:I wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nucrash (549705) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:33AM (#46333049)

        The problem with this is that mistrust has already been seeded for one party and once that occurs, full blown paranoia is only a couple of steps away. We already have a culture of anti-government rhetoric building. While many are chaotic, and completely lacking organization, there might be enough just to start trouble across the board. In short, they will probably end up reaping what they sew.

        • Re:I wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

          by guises (2423402) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:27AM (#46333625)

          We already have a culture of anti-government rhetoric building. While many are chaotic, and completely lacking organization, there might be enough just to start trouble across the board. In short, they will probably end up reaping what they sew.

          You're not wrong about the culture of anti-government rhetoric, but your last comment, about reaping what they sew, is off the mark and makes me sad. Our "culture of anti-government rhetoric" has been sculpted to treat the government as a monolithic entity. Government is government. Thus, a story about an invasion of privacy or one like this, about perverting speech, can be turned into an attack on the EPA or health care reform or an argument against the regulation of financial markets. The government can't be trusted, after all.

          Even worse, that paranoid atmosphere is exactly what drives legislation like the Patriot Act in the first place. People want to feel safe, it's self-propagating.

          If you really want to stop this sort of abuse, what you need to foster in your self and in others is not paranoia, or mistrust, but confidence. Keep your outrage, that's certainly appropriate, but recognize this as a problem that can be fixed and move towards that solution.

      • Re:I wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mean pun (717227) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:44AM (#46333145)

        Try to focus on arguments of fact, not arguments of person or source. Then you will weed out most deception.

        Unfortunately, that's not how discussions are conducted in practice. Everyone always thinks that they argue rationally and factual, and it's always the morans that disagree with you that are _ing blind idiotic sheeple for not seeing the obvious truth of your position. Just look at the pro/con climate change discussions here here on /., the heated US Rep/Dem discussions, or even the iOS/Android pie fights.

        Add to that an entire industry that manufactures plausible rationalisations and helpful facts, and you have all the ingredients for large-scale underbelly-based public discussion that is easily manipulated.

      • by fortfive (1582005)

        Try to focus on arguments of fact, not arguments of person or source. Then you will weed out most deception.

        You are correct to an extent. The challenge is that, in many instances, we cannot all be experts on every topic. Even Bill Nye must rely on the summaries and conclusions of experts. In those instances, we are forced to make judgments--and argue--about sources.

        I wish I could propose "reason" as an alternative, but in my own experience and observation, there are some very well reasoned propositions that reach absurd conclusions.

        That leaves the Bucky Fuller solution: we have to test our propositions and see ho

      • "How many of the comments on this article will be from shills?"

        "If you ask that yourself, the tactics have succeeded halfway already -- seeding mistrust has worked. "

        If you don't ask that then you're an idiot.

      • by Freultwah (739055)
        Not just NSA. My money is on FSB as well. It seems that a similar tactic is being used in the neighbouring countries of Russia to sow distrust towards the state, the elected officials and the system of government as a whole. No hard data to back it up, obviously, but I am enough of a masochist to read online reader comments and one does not have to be paranoid to see an unsettling trend there.
    • Re: I wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

      by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:37AM (#46333087)
      A better question might be, "How could this possibly be furthering out national security interests?", and if it isn't, "Why the hell are they wasting my money on programs designed to further their own egomaniacal agenda?".

      I mean, isn't this self-serving and public-harming behavior exactly what got them in to hot water in the first place?

      Frankly, if they still don't get that abusing the hand that feeds them tax dollars isn't in America's best interest, then they don't deserve to be an organization. Let the CIA and FBI pick up their responsibilities and disolve the NSA altogether. They are a waste of money, a waste of manpower, and are wasting our liberties.
      • by Jawnn (445279)

        Frankly, if they still don't get that abusing the hand that feeds them tax dollars isn't in America's best interest.

        Your mistake is in assuming that the motivation for this behavior is "America's best interest". The interests actually being represented may be "American" but that is only a coincidence.

      • Re: I wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:39AM (#46333741)

        How is it in America's best interest? Because the people in charge actually think like this:

        1) There are threats to us everywhere and we are the only ones protecting against them.

        2) To effectively protect America (as per #1), we need power. Lots and lots of power.

        3) Anything that reduces our power (e.g. Edward Snowden) threatens us and therefore impacts our ability to protect America.

        4) Therefore, anything that reduces our power (or threatens to do so) is a threat to America and needs to be dealt with.

        5) Go To Step 2.

        It's an infinite loop. The more power they have, the more "potential threats" they see (real or imagined in an attempt to justify their power), and the more they see any reduction of their power as something that will cause horrible things to happen.

        • Re: I wonder (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Phrogman (80473) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:50AM (#46333865) Homepage

          I agree, although I also think there is a strong element of "not on my watch" covering of the ass. No one in the West wants to be held responsible for the next 9/11, so gathering *all* the information on everyone seems a prudent exercise to prevent being blamed because *you* didn't do something to prevent it, no matter how flagrant a breach of the public trust, laws, etc.

      • Let the CIA and FBI pick up their responsibilities and disolve the NSA altogether. They are a waste of money, a waste of manpower, and are wasting our liberties.

        What makes your think the CIA or FBI would be any better?

    • Re:I wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:38AM (#46333095)

      If the posts name starts with 'c' and ends with "fjord" is going to be a shill post.

    • by tuxicle (996538)
      I wonder how many shills make "first post"
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      If a sock puppet follows direction of the classic gov talking points?
      http://www.techdirt.com/articl... [techdirt.com]
  • by mrspoonsi (2955715) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:10AM (#46332909)
    It is all a lie
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hello, shill. What's your salary?

  • I saw something about this the other day, and simply figured I'd stumbled across Prison Planet or something similar... any suggestion that it isn't feels really creepy.

  • by korbulon (2792438) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:16AM (#46332933)

    Seen the Snowden character assassination even here on Slashdot. "Look at that traitor with the dodgy face, not the highly unconstitutional government surveillance program which basically takes a huge dump over your privacy rights!"

    Not that it would do much good here, but God bless 'em for tryin'!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Huh I had a feeling that Snowden bashers were shills fed talking points, their syntax and language was too uniform. Guess my shill suspision may have been right. Now if only there was a good way to counter them, short of being an insider.

      • by gweihir (88907)

        Point out how schematic and disconnected from reality their claims are. These people are not smart enough to customize their attacks.

      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        it's hard to differentiate paid shills from genuine boot lickers.
    • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:42AM (#46333131)

      Assange too. Notice how Daniel Domscheit-Berg (who I still suspect was a plant all along, sent in to sabotage WikiLeaks) has made quite a little cottage career off disparaging Assange? Looks like the CIA/FBI has somehow gotten to his ghost-writer now too.

      And Domonique Strauss-Kahn. Just a few months after challenging the supremacy of the U.S. Dollar, he suddenly decided to become a rapist (the NY prosecutor even went as far as calling it a "Rock-solid case"). Then, literally *3 days* after his successor was sworn in at the IMF, suddenly the prosecutor decided that he wasn't a rapist anymore. WHAT an amazing coincidence!

      • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @11:29AM (#46334303)

        And Domonique Strauss-Kahn. Just a few months after challenging the supremacy of the U.S. Dollar, he suddenly decided to become a rapist (the NY prosecutor even went as far as calling it a "Rock-solid case"). Then, literally *3 days* after his successor was sworn in at the IMF, suddenly the prosecutor decided that he wasn't a rapist anymore. WHAT an amazing coincidence!

        I loved the DHK case. It was so transparent. When that case broke, I said to a friend of mine, "He must have pissed off the wrong people." It was so clear that he was targeted. I figured it had something to do with him seeking the French presidency, but it's always hard to tell the real motivations behind these things.

    • Folks who read, post, and think are less susceptible to indoctrination by repetition, but not immune.

      Think how foolish advertisements can seem, and the next thing you know, a cartoon lizard has sold you some auto insurance.

      Propaganda (controlling the free flow of information) is essential to a totalitarian government, but it is also handy-like-a-pocket-on-a-shirt for the elected democracy.

    • Seen the Snowden character assassination even here on Slashdot.

      And they're still trying to assassinate Julian Assange's character (see yesterday's Slashdot stories) in a transparent attempt to divert attention away from their highly illegal/unconstitional behavior.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      It's nothing compared to what Assange has been the target of. I'm kinda surprised they didn't try to make out Snowden was a pervert of some kind, but maybe it didn't work as well as they had hoped with Assange so they are trying other things.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Indeed, it does. I have personally been attacked along these lines as well (although by incompetent cretins, because they were two and did not coordinate, so the cheap emotional manipulation attempts were blatantly obvious as they were working from the same script), and fortunately it was just trying to influence opinion in a forum. But this scum seems to be everywhere now. For example, the Linux community increasingly gets manipulated to accept bloated, insecure and centrally controlled components that I c

  • by cgfsd (1238866) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:20AM (#46332969)
    Governments have been doing this for a very long time, the only difference now is the media in which it is delivered.
    Previously it was the newspaper and radio, now it is the Internet. Playbook stayed the same.
    • by Noryungi (70322)

      They may have been doing it for a very long time. That does not mean we have to tolerate it.

  • This made me wonder if they have a team of volunteer zealots working in church basements or paying an Indian call center troll slashdot inbetween calls.

    Also, do you think years ago the Chinese hacked an NSA directors workstation, stole his 10 year plan, and got the Great Firewall of China first to market?
  • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:35AM (#46333069)

    Why waste a bullet when you can label someone a rapist, narcissist, child molester, etc.--and then threaten all their friends into bad-mouthing them, disparaging them online, and so on?

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:59PM (#46335551)
      Honestly, why bother with even that. Manning, Assange, Snowden... the character assassinations have been redundant with national attention span. Someone exposes some wrongdoing you did? Instead of shooting them or saying mean things about them, just wait. Wait... wait... aaand everyone has forgotten what they said on their own.

      I feel like the character assassinations, legal attempts, and perhaps actual murder attempts are absurd symptoms of the people at the NSA et al genuinely thinking of themselves as the good guys and everyone who isn't with them as bad guys. The spooks seem to be drinking their own koolaid. I'm not sure if that's more terrifying than an efficient, cold-blooded, impassionate government conspiracy or not.
  • Why should corporate shills get all the good times? Those in the public sector deserve their fair share.

  • by lkcl (517947)

    well. that would explain why maharishi mahesh yogi was accused of all sorts of things. and why various scientists get "discredited". it would be interesting to consider how best to counteract these measures, although Mr Maharishi Bounces-on-the-Mattress Mahesh Yogi had a tactic that seemed to work: ignore them....

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re it would be interesting to consider how best to counteract these measures...
      Consider Poland or East Germany or areas from the late 1970's onwards. The methods used ranged from removal (death, exile, prison, house arrest) to a formal invite onto TV to 'debate' the issues hoping that lack of media training, an accent would sway many people that the gov was correct via a more charming representative.
      The way to win is just to keep publishing, keep sending out information to many people about events, contr
  • by Kasar (838340) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:41AM (#46333127)
    The government is the source of all the false information on the internet?
    I knew it. People couldn't be that dumb.
  • This rumor (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wytcld (179112) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:44AM (#46333147) Homepage

    The notion that shills are poisoning the discourse itself poisons the discourse. Shouldn't we then treat whoever brings forward this notion as a troll?

    It's not just the NSA. It's evident in forums across the web that there is quick, coordinated trolling of any discussion of climate change or health insurance - the main targets of the Koch Bros' web of disinformation front groups.

    What remains to be seen is whether the Koch Bros' fronts and the NSA are allies in these efforts to poison the watering holes, sharing techniques and perhaps even operatives. There's clear evidence the NSA has spied for American industrial interests, for instance against Petrobas in Brazil, which competes against some of the Koch Bros' firms.

    • The notion that shills are poisoning the discourse itself poisons the discourse.

      That's the beauty of it. Planting shills in online forums works even if the tactic is revealed.

    • Isn't it the dilettante who is too ignorant to see through the shill who ultimately poisons the discourse? The shills are usually hyper-polite. It is the hobbyists who start to amplify the shill's message and get hurt feelings when they are corrected that start with the swearing and personal attacks.
  • The NSA is in trouble for domestic spying. Are the targets here domestic? If not, then they are just doing their job.
    • The NSA's job isn't 'do whatever they want outside the US.'
    • The NSA is in trouble for domestic spying. Are the targets here domestic? If not, then they are just doing their job.

      Except this isn't about spying, it's about social engineering. Is that in the NSA's mandate?

      • by mdsolar (1045926)
        Not too sure. I think the CIA has the social engineering with UAV launched missile portfolio, but I don't know how all the less lethal efforts break down.
  • Lies! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Buck Feta (3531099)
    The NSA would never use shills to alter and/or direct web discussions. Most citizens of the western world misunderstand the intelligence enterprise as it relates to counter-terrorism, which contributes to the NSA's limited ability to develop necessary anticipatory knowledge to mitigate risks, or respond to emerging threats. People who insinuate that there are NSA shills on web forums demonstrate a clear affinity and tendency to support for the cyber-terrorists that infiltrate our webspace.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:02AM (#46333345) Homepage
    At best federal agencies hope to sway public opinion. they dont want you to do what they tell you, but rather to want to do what they tell you. the government predicates their position upon the conviction that online forums are no different than a public forum, which could not be further from the truth. Tea Party 'town halls' are a prime example of the FUD and disinformation tactic being used to disrupt a political group in power. Its a functional effort to turn civil discourse into a cattle car by injecting audience that stand, scream, and then immediately sit or defend pointless illogical opinions to run down the clock.

    the internet interperets ignorance, malice, and poorly defined opinions and conjecture as spam, and has for 15 years honed tools and systems in online forums to ensure. the 50 clandestine posters in a free software forum defending SOPA or PIPA will, nearly instantaneously, be downvoted to oblivion in a system which is very much designed to keep the topic of discussion of relevance. systems like karma and abuse tracking dont exist in meatspace forums, but these are tools which members can use to shut down abusers or track malicious participants who abuse the tools as well. and finally its worth nothing to poison one forum when in its place dissuaded or frustrated posters can erect 10 more. mobility is a moot concern on the internet; a luxury meatspace forums just dont have.
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:11AM (#46333439) Homepage

    Assume that this report is true (I note that this is not the first time that we have heard this sort of thing) and take the NSA/GCHQ aims at face value and desirable: ie that they are acting to prevent harm to people in their respective countries.

    What they appear to be doing is to damage some innocent people to prevent harm to some other people. I can understand that this might be a trade off that is worth paying - paid by the innocent people. I am far from convinced that this trade off is right or moral; but for the sake of this argument - I will accept it.

    So: we have an equation, it is worth it if: Number-of-people-protected > Number-of-people-harmed.

    It is, of course, more complicated. The above assumes that the amount of harm is the same in each case, this will not be true. Arguably the worst harm is someone being killed. There are lesser harms to individuals: financial loss, loss of reputation, damage to personal relationships (estrangement from families, divorce, ...), loss of liberty - these all seem to be results of the sort of tactics that the article talks about.

    The difficult part is ranking the harms, so how much financial loss is equivalent to loss of liberty or death ? Cleverer people that me might be able to come up with a rough ranking.

    There is also the general harm to society that is caused by gumming up free discussion and exchange of information.

    Once we have done all of the equations: are we, as a society, better or worse off ? This is the big question.

    The other question is: who is better off ? I said ''society'', but is that who this is really who benefits, might it not be politicians, powerful business people, those who work at NSA/GCHQ ? If those who suffer from these actions are different from those who gain - the cost equation changes depending on which camp you find yourself.

    I note that some of these same tactics are also used by some large corporates who wish to protect their profits or confine knowledge of their wrong doing.

    So: can anyone come up with a cost/benefit analysis, please ?

  • by MPAB (1074440) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:23AM (#46333571)

    Right now the social networks are flooded with alleged "discoveries of fraud", according to which the opposition is spreading pictures from protests elsewhere as being from Venezuela right now. It's interesting that the original photos are very easy to find in the internet, but the ones supposedly shared by the venezuelan opposition are nowhere.
    Either the venezuelan opposition is dumb enough to get pictures that are widely available and spread them as their own or there's some seeding taking place in hopes that the opposition will get framed by spreading a false pic that was given to them by someone else.

    • Re:Venezuela (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kilfarsnar (561956) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:38PM (#46335225)

      Right now the social networks are flooded with alleged "discoveries of fraud", according to which the opposition is spreading pictures from protests elsewhere as being from Venezuela right now. It's interesting that the original photos are very easy to find in the internet, but the ones supposedly shared by the venezuelan opposition are nowhere. Either the venezuelan opposition is dumb enough to get pictures that are widely available and spread them as their own or there's some seeding taking place in hopes that the opposition will get framed by spreading a false pic that was given to them by someone else.

      The powers that be really do not want anyone in the US thinking that what is going on in Venezuela is at all okay. I don't know if it's the socialist angle, but all we hear are bad things about Venezuela. We hear about how horrible their living conditions are and how corrupt their government is. Hugo Chavez was constantly demonized in the media. We even tried to overthrow him back in the early 2000's.

      The US has a long history of disrupting successful socialism in South America. I figure that's what's going on here as well. Our government doesn't want anyone getting the idea that socialism could work to raise up a people. Capitalism has to be seen as the only way; in order to prop up the fabulously profitable system the oligarchs have constructed.

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:27AM (#46333619) Journal

    , and most importantly - self restraint - seem to be missing from intelligence services. This has always been the case.

    The difference today is that we pretend we're in a "war on terror" because if you don't pretend it's an active war, you can't even begin to justify the ridiculous kinds of constitutional subversion and 'National Socialist' behavior that would make a WWII veteran pick up his rifle and start shooting (probably beginning with Congress.)

    It's really pretty simple. America has always been a country with flaws, but at least we didn't promulgate torture as policy, we didn't systematically suspend habeas corpus. We may have always been pretty shallow on the greed and capitalism side of things all along, but we've always aspired to be better.

    Now, because 3000 people died on 9/11 because some a**hole wanted to change America, we torture people and call it enhanced interrogation, we detain people (even American citizens) without any form of due process or the hope of habeas corpus, the government actively spies on its own citizens, government bodies lie to Congress without being censured, our government routinely lies to the American people about what is actually happening during drone strikes, we now attack people inside sovereign countries on a regular basis without that country's permission or knowledge, we have a 'homeland security' (how jingoistic and propagandist is the term 'homeland' in that phrase? LOL) The 4th amendment has been corrupted so that anyone can be searched at any time for no discernible reason at all. Last but not least, you can now, apparnetly, order the death of an American citizen without any form of due process at all by perverting the "clear and present danger" rationale.

    Congratulations Usama you f***ing c*nt, you managed to change America. Not that it will benefit the Islamic world in any way, you've simply changed our government into the government you always thought it was, to the detriment of both America and the rest of the world (especially the Muslim world.)

    • by EMG at MU (1194965) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:09PM (#46334817)
      Sorry to break it to you but we have very rarely held the moral high ground. We systematically killed off the Native Americans. We locked the Japanese in internment camps. We carried out medical and military experiments on US citizens and military personnel without their consent or knowledge. Some of these people died and it took decades for the Government to apologize to the families of the victims. Our government put MLK on surveillance, planned to discredit him and smear him in the public eye. The CIA facilitated drug trafficking. Our government hatched plans to attack US cities to try to drum up support for an invasion of Cuba. The US has a long and rich history of violating human rights in the name of security.

      TL;DR: We have been doing this shit for a long long time. Because of our dominance we get to write the history books and therefore your average person is ignorant of the crimes of the US government. It would disturb the general population so they just don't discuss it. Anyone who would care already knows, anyone who doesn't already know probably wouldn't care.
  • by ve3oat (884827) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:58AM (#46333959)
    The referenced source document (https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/) uses the abbreviations GBR and NZL for two of the members of the Five Eyes community. I worked at one of those five establishments (retired before 1998) and for all of the the 28 years during which I worked there, the standard abbreviations were UK and NZ, as in
    CANUKUS Eyes Only and
    AUSCANUKUSNZ Eyes Only.

    I wonder who wrote the source document and why the standard abbreviations weren't used.
  • Russia is doing this sort of thing pretty extensively. On one of the national forums I happen to frequent we know who these people are - in fact, they are not really in hiding (though they never officially confirm or deny their identity). Human psychology works in curious ways, though - even though the perpetrators are well known, the rest of the community still gets into extensive discourse that includes these people and even allows them to steer discussion in whatever direction they need to. I have to giv

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:41PM (#46335271)

    Standard herd psychology instructs us that you only need to control a relatively small percentage of the perceived crowd support in order to sway the behavior of the whole herd.

    You can see this in effect here. When AGW comes up, the tone of the discussion tends to swing either one way or the other after a brief period at the start where it is determined which camp will dominate. After that point, people with opposing views will more often stay quiet for fear of being mobbed by group consensus, and those in the majority feel confident in mobbing.

    Take a look at the whole Slashdot Beta outcry. When more than half the posts were complaining about Beta, the Slashdot lords actually responded.

    But these are just pocket instances. In the context of the whole internet and society at large, a highly consolidated stance in one forum will be counterbalanced by the opposite view in another.

    Cohesive group consensus across the whole of a large population becomes very unlikely, and the decision makers can simply follow their agendas without worrying about large blocks of public opinion forming which might actually result in real pressure to stop them.

    Mobs need to feel like a mob to act like a mob. When you keep a herd factional through the injection of artificial objections, the mob never coalesces into something which gets out of control.

    There are whole disinfo thrusts designed just to promote stupid, argumentative view points in order to confuse any given issue. Confusion prevents herds from stampeding.

    Then, when the leadership really wants something to happen, (like a war), the media kicks into overdrive to create the impression of a cohesive message and the confused cattle follow because their own ability to decide amongst themselves has been so exhausted and the need to move in SOME direction due to a high state of anxiety is overwhelming. -And that state of high anxiety is maintained through a variety of controlled pressures.

    The system works really well, as we have seen. The oligarchs haven't been stymied at all in their activities. They got all the wars they wanted and maintain control to this day.

  • by ebcdic (39948) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @12:58PM (#46335531)

    Usenet is much harder to control than web forums, so making it useless by posting endless rubbish would be attractive.

  • by DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @01:15PM (#46335765)

    Infiltration, astroturfing and reputation destruction are as old as the hills. Such as this not really amusing story of a Muslim organization turning in a member who was hyping terrorism, only to discover he was an FBI infiltrant:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/2946... [nbcnews.com]

    I think such things are to be expected. It sucks, but if you've a security vulnerability in any system, you can expect it to be exploited. The question we should be asking is, can online groups adapt to account for such possibilities, and how?

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