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More On the "Cuban Twitter" Scam 90

Posted by timothy
from the disrupting-the-moral-purity-of-the-cuban-autocracy dept.
We mentioned a few days ago the USAID-funded SMS social network that was connecting Cubans against the wishes of the Cuban government. Now Glen Greenwald's The Intercept has more on this kind of back-channel government intervention via what he characterizes as "the Internet propaganda bucket." Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes with an excerpt: "These ideas–discussions of how to exploit the internet, specifically social media, to surreptitiously disseminate viewpoints friendly to western interests and spread false or damaging information about targets–appear repeatedly throughout the archive of materials provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Documents prepared by NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ–and previously published by The Intercept as well as some by NBC News–detailed several of those programs, including a unit devoted in part to "discrediting" the agency's enemies with false information spread online.

The documents in the archive show that the British are particularly aggressive and eager in this regard, and formally shared their methods with their U.S. counterparts. One previously undisclosed top-secret document–prepared by GCHQ for the 2010 annual "SIGDEV" gathering of the "Five Eyes" surveillance alliance comprising the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S.–explicitly discusses ways to exploit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media as secret platforms for propaganda."
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More On the "Cuban Twitter" Scam

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It has been said that the essence of Britishness is fair play. Speaking as a public school educated (that's private boarding school, to you Yanks) toff, I can say with certainty that this is not true at all. The essence of Britishness is hypocrisy. In our hearts we are not standard-bearers of freedom and democracy, but temporarily embarrassed imperialists. And those of us whose mathematical aptitude did not win us a place in the City find themselves landed with a Civil Service job, a job with much the same

    • Let everyone speak, but control the podium supply. Make podiums expensive, but give them away free to those saying what you want to be heard. Use this to control the discussion. Give the illusion that every position you think is important is supported by a rational majority and opposed by a fringe of maniacs. If a subject isn't important to your agenda but is contentious, keep it constantly in the public sphere and use it to keep people divided against each other. Say as little as you can yourself.

      That

  • by Anonymous Coward

    and this is from a year ago..

    Bolivian President Evo Morales expels USAID, 1 May 2013 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-22371275)

    Bolivian President Evo Morales has said he will expel the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Mr Morales accused the agency of seeking to "conspire against" the Bolivian people and his government. US state department spokesman Patrick Ventrell rejected the allegations as "baseless and unfounded".

    • by bmo (77928)

      Patrick Ventrell rejected the allegations as "baseless and unfounded"

      Legalese for "true."

      --
      BMO

  • by jodido (1052890) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @03:48PM (#46672085)
    About the US cyberattack on Cuba. First of all, it failed, as every US attack on Cuba has failed. Second, the US puts form over content--the idea that if you get people to follow your Twitter feed sports scores, when you say "OK! Everyone out to the Plaza to overthrow the government!" that hundreds of thousands of people will show up and try to overthrow the government, even if they didn't know they wanted to (which in Cuba most people don't). Third, the continuing destruction of internet trust on the part of the US. And fourth, their willingness to put people at risk without telling them they're putting them at risk.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The real question is, to what extent was the US involved in other countries? Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine? Different counties, same scenario. Social media play a major role at the beginning and during each uprising.

      Which also raises the question whether blocking social media is an act of censorship or an attempt to neutralize foreign involvement in internal affairs.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        I guess you never heard of radio free Europe.

        This has happened since the start of the cold war. The US has done this with Cuba in some form or another since castro confiscated private industry and expelled the foreign owners and workers.

        And yes, closing down twitter in a country is about the same as jamming a radio signal with the added benifit of hampering opposition communications.

        • Please... I lived it. But the situation is a bit different here: radio free Europe, Voice of America, BBC etc. were mass media, they claimed higher ground and freedom from government censorship, but they still had owners, countries of origin and so on.

          Social networks are controlled differently, the agents there pose as common people, changing and influencing the opinion of those who read but doesn't post (i.e. the majority of users). Often post from social networks are used in the western media to form an o

        • by jodido (1052890)
          "Castro" didn't expel anyone. When the wealthy lost the sources of their wealth--ie, it became the property of all instead of the property of the few--they voluntarily left and went to a country that values getting rich at the expense of others, chiefly the U.S.
      • Which also raises the question whether blocking social media is an act of censorship or an attempt to neutralize foreign involvement in internal affairs.

        It is censorship. The rationale for the censorship may be to reduce foreign involvement, but it is still censorship. It doesn't magically become "not censorship" based on your reason for doing it.

      • by temcat (873475)

        Which also raises the question whether blocking social media is an act of censorship or an attempt to neutralize foreign involvement in internal affairs.

        It can well be both. And foreign involvement in the so called internal affairs can be a good thing, too. No, you are not free to oppress your own citizens. And no, the USA is not always in the right. But neither are the governments of the countries you listed.

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      ah, but you forgot to take into account that the tweets come with subliminal messages based on advances in EBS, steganographically concealed using the latest alien compression tech.
  • Yawn (Score:1, Informative)

    by Jiro (131519)

    This is just a mountain made out of a molehill by leftists who are fans of the government of Cuba and don't like when Western governments try to undermine it. I have news for them: doing things like this is the intelligence agencies' *job*. They're supposed to spy; that's why they're called spy agencies, and Cuba couldn't be a more deserving target.

    If Cuba doesn't do such things itself, it's only because of lack of budget in these post-Soviet days, not lcak of scruples. (Remember when Cuba used to send "

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Idiot, this is not spying, it is a propaganda campaign.

      • by jc42 (318812)

        ... this is not spying, it is a propaganda campaign.

        "Yawn" indeed. What baffles me is how anyone think this differs from any other propaganda campaigns throughout human history. It is because it's "on a computer", which means that most people will forget all precedent and pretend that it's something new?

        In particular, the mass media here and everywhere else has always cooperated with the wishes of the people in power. That's part of the price of staying in business, regardless of what your local laws (or Constitutions) might say. The distribution of i

        • It differs from other propaganda because it's happening HERE On /. There are establishment trolls all over this place trying to shape public opinion. How can you act so blasse, You say this is nothing new, but clearly it must be, because this concept didn't even occur to you! You don't even mention it. So spare me your lazy yawns so long as you lazily look past the elephant in the room. Waiting for cold fjord to post here.
          • by jc42 (318812)

            Well, I didn't mention the propaganda on /. because it didn't occur to me that anyone would think it special. The astroturfers and other propagandists have been here since before I had an account, and a lot of their work is so blatant that it's hard to miss. So it's not that the propaganda here didn't occur to me; it's more like I thought it such a cheap shot that I'd be criticized (and possibly downloaded) for wasting reader time by mentioning something so obvious.

            Not that there's anything about this

            • Corporate astroturfing is one thing, but the matter being discussed in this thread is one of paid government shills. You're insisting this is nothing new, which is incorrect--the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 has enabled domestic propaganda for the first time since the cold war. http://thecable.foreignpolicy.... [foreignpolicy.com] Yes, paid trolls on forums IS new. And it's clear you don't give a shit, because again, you won't even acknowledge the issue. You aren't the least bit concerned when dozens of posts of "fu
        • by Dr Max (1696200)
          Maybe it dosn't differ from the other propaganda, but that dosn't mean it should be done. No one likes any goverment misleading them for their own motivations, even if you do it the most, or for the longest, or if other countries do it do, it will still piss off the public.
      • Idiot, this is not spying, it is a propaganda campaign.

        And the best propaganda is the truth. If Cuba's government can be undermined by citizens having access to social media, then it is time for a new government.

        • No wonder nobody trusts the American government. The rest of the world doesn't need to make stuff up when the truth is worse.
      • Actually it gives Cuban citizens a non-governmental channel they can use to communicate with one another. Such communication doesn't necessarily need to be political in nature. Twitter was born out of the efforts to provide Iranians with a way to communicate that could bypass the government controls.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is just a mountain made out of a molehill by leftists who are fans of the government of Cuba and don't like when Western governments try to undermine it. I have news for them: doing things like this is the intelligence agencies' *job*. They're supposed to spy; that's why they're called spy agencies, and Cuba couldn't be a more deserving target.

      I have news for you: USAID is *not* an intelligence agency. From their website under "What We Do":

      • "USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential."

      For a second, I thought you might've simply posted in the wrong thread...but you didn't, did you. So you ARE an idiot.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I have news for you: The Intelligence Agencies use other agencies as cover for their activities. USAID has a long, long history of being used for intelligence purposes. In was an open secret even before documents were released in 2007 that proved it. Countries routinely kicked USAID out for spying, like Eritrea in 1995.

    • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday April 05, 2014 @04:36PM (#46672343)

      This is just a mountain made out of a molehill by leftists who are fans of the government of Cuba ...

      False dichotomy. Rejecting A does not mean accepting B.

      ... and don't like when Western governments try to undermine it.

      See above.

      I have news for them: doing things like this is the intelligence agencies' *job*.

      Just because someone is paid to do something does not mean that anyone has to support that.

      They're supposed to spy; that's why they're called spy agencies, and Cuba couldn't be a more deserving target.

      Since Cuba is not a threat to the USofA in any way that statement is incorrect. There are many ways Cuba could be "a more deserving target".

      If Cuba doesn't do such things itself, it's only because of lack of budget in these post-Soviet days, not lcak of scruples.

      Circular reasoning. And you even admit that Cuba is not doing the same to the USofA.

      But I wouldn't like it if Cuba dropped bombs on us either, yet I'm not foolish enough to say that it's immoral to drop bombs on another country.

      That entirely depends upon how YOU define YOUR "morality".

    • by dryeo (100693)

      I'd rather live in Cuba then some of Americas right wing allies such as Saudi Arabia or their right wing puppet countries such as Haiti. Now you might look at Saudi Arabia as a libertarian right wing paradise where the citizens don't pay taxes and can do what ever they want as long as they follow the social mores which comes naturally but I don't like the slavery. And of course in Haiti you're free to struggle to get a job for $3 a day, save and become rich but the truth is it is hell on Earth for most of i

  • I don't read twitter, no facebook account. And on YouTube i watch only funny cat videos!

  • I don't mind a government overseas propaganda division, really. It's one of the few effective counters against countries that operate their own censorship and propaganda systems. It's the sneaking around that I really don't like. Be honest about it.

  • ... trying to derail/distract/deride/divert

    Cheney should be shitting bricks right now.

  • How much did all of this cost?

    Let's be blunt here. The purpose of this program was never to in any way seriously affect the Cuban regieme. The purpose of this program, like so many others at the NSA, was to "legitimize" bonuses and to buy new Cadillacs for NSA managers and senior officers. If General Alexander's Star Trek office revealed one thing, it is that the NSA has a culture of gorging at the public trough.

  • The Soviets and their proxies have been running very successful propaganda/disinformation campaigns in the West for almost 100 years.

    • by quantaman (517394)

      The US is supposedly selling Democracy, free speech, and freedom of the press.

      Government propaganda, particularly covert government propaganda, has no place in Democracy. By using these methods to influence foreign populations not only is the US is undercutting its own message, they're doing through the agency (USAID) that is supposed to be spreading that message.

      This is why sunlight is essential, because without it governments fall victim to group think and short sighted objectives and lose the ability to

  • This is no different than Voice of America radio which has been broadcasting propaganda for decades without anyone getting their panties in a bunch.

  • and American imperialism is alive and well. I praise Cuba for their continued heroic resistance to the great evil in their backyard. It must greatly anger the American empire that they cannot break a small island nation 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
    • by dryeo (100693)

      It's worse then that. Cuba is the symbol of American Imperialism. When they first decided to become a major player, they planned a war with Spain, did a false flag operation, surprised and defeated Spain and made Cuba a puppet state in the name of freedom and gave it to the Mafia to run. Then those awful Cubans revolted, threw out Batista (sp?) and did awful things like giving the average person shoes and free medical. The truth is that in that part of the world, the average Cuban is better off then lets sa

      • Cuba is a horrible shithole in every way imaginable. I won't waste my time trying to convince somebody like you but look it up yourself:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

        Not to mention the economy where workers are paid on average $19/month and lack even basic necessities and cannot legally change jobs, move, own property, own a cellphone or a computer without government permit etc etc.

        Yes they are better of than Haiti, the country that compares badly even with worst African countries, so you got that one ri

  • It's a bad thing to let some light into a communist dictatorship?
    • In my opinion, all countries benefit from more transparency and openness in their government. Possibly the USA would care to lead by example?

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