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NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse 347

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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  • 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?

  • 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'!

  • 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 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @09:51AM (#46333229) Homepage Journal

    What part of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." don't you understand? Here is the source of that quote.

    At the very least, freedom of speech seems to apply to /. and other Internet forums. True, NSA has not made a law restricting it, but since Free Speech seems to be protected by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, polluting Internet forums without legal authorizations to do so could open the possibility of a legal recourse for not respecting the Constitutional Rights of U.S. citizens.

    Oh, it's GCHQ you say? Fine, the United Kindom (and the United States!) has signed, since 1948, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights [], which states, in its 19th article: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.". Here is the source of this quote []. That seems to cover the British side of things.

    As a reminder, it seems that GCHQ and NSA have created fake Slashdot sites to trap European citizens. They have violated the US Constitution and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They can, therefore, be considered as unlawful organisations engaged in unlawful activities.

    This does not mean, in any way, shape or form, that other intelligence organizations are not violating basic human rights of free speech and free assembly. We are being spied on and manipulated in a panopticon way, which is designed to silence and stifle dissent and basic human rights.

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> 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 ?

  • Here he is! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by torsmo ( 1301691 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:15AM (#46333483)
    The ever reliable cold fjord, bringing the gospel of his masters to the unwashed masses. Taking a break from sucking your boss's cock?
  • 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 Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @10:37AM (#46333717)

    What you've just stated is a "dodgy fact." Apparently you can invent pretty much any claim about the constitution, the actual law be damned.

    The thing with the cold fjord posts is they're almost too predictable. Someone states something like "NSA doing nasty unconstitutional stuff" and there's a immediately a naive rebuttal like: "Nuh uh, not true, you're the nasty one." Like he's supposed to be caught, maybe to distract from the real -- more subtle -- shills. A "search satisfaction error" exploit.

  • 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.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer