On The Internet Nobody Knows You Are A Dog – Peter Steiner, The New Yorker. Wiki
Three stories I read yesterday, exhibiting a common theme. These aren’t wrapped together as a neat thread, but if you think about it a bit, perhaps they are related after all.
First, and the most newsworthy by far was Glenn Greenwald’s latest amazing story about our National Security apparatus. There are Power Point documents created instructing how to ruin an enemy’s online reputation. You should read his article if you read nothing else today, and this adjunct tale of this process in action:
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.
Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”
By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
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.
(click here to continue reading How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations – The Intercept.)
God Is Ugly
Second, did you notice that the still-Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, Tea Party and Koch Brother favorite, paid his staff to write comments on newspaper articles? If you were a resident of Milwaukee, or later, of anywhere in Wisconsin, your taxpayer money was spent thus1. Doesn’t that make you pleased? Have you ever waded through comments on a news article?Yeah, nasty stuff most usually. Makes you wonder who the author of that sycophantic comment really is, or more precisely, who his employer is.
Madison — In the heat of the 2010 governor’s race, Scott Walker urged both county employees and campaign aides to go to news websites and post comments promoting him and his record, newly unsealed documents show.
It was just such anonymous posts by a county worker on campaign issues that prompted prosecutors to expand a secret “John Doe” investigation — launched to probe into missing money in a veterans fund — to also examine whether taxpayer dollars were being used illegally to finance political operations.
In one instance in May 2010, for example, a close ally posted online a portion of a Walker email almost verbatim on a Journal Sentinel story just minutes after receiving the directive. Walker had sent the note to an inner circle that included county administrators as well as campaign operatives.
Tapping out a message on his campaign Blackberry on the afternoon of May 4, 2010, Walker urged county aides, campaign staffers and other trusted volunteers to go to an online Journal Sentinel business story and respond to critics of his plan to privatize the airport in the comments section below the story.
“Someone should comment on the fact that the only way for the county to benefit from that success is to contract out operations,” Walker wrote in an email. “Having a well performing airport increases the value that the county could receive.”
A half-hour later, Brian Pierick — the boyfriend of Walker aide Timothy D. Russell — posted a comment on the story under the alias “WI_Calvin,” calling rising airport traffic “another example of Scott Walker’s outstanding leadership.”
“The only way the county can to (sic) benefit from that success is to contract out operations. Having a well performing airport increases the value that the county could receive,” Pierick wrote, adding only a single word to Walker’s phrasing. Pierick and Russell were both later convicted of other activities in the secret probe.
(click here to continue reading Scott Walker urged county staff, campaign aides to promote him online.)
Lastly, and probably least, there was an anonymous tweeter by the name of @GSElevator who got a book deal, based mostly on what he tweeted, things allegedly overheard in the elevator of Goldman Sachs. Except the author only briefly even came close to working for Goldman, years ago, and so made up most of what he quoted. He still got a lot of publicity though.
A three-year parlor game has been taking place on Wall Street to identify the Goldman Sachs employee behind a Twitter account that purports to reveal the uncensored comments overheard in the firm’s elevators.
The Twitter account, @GSElevator, reports overheard remarks like, “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience,” and “Groupon…Food stamps for the middle class.”
The Twitter account, which has an audience of more than 600,000 followers, has been the subject of an internal inquiry at Goldman to find the rogue employee. The tweets, often laced with insider references to deals in the news, appeal to both Wall Street bankers and outsiders who mock the industry. Late last month, the writer sold a book about Wall Street culture based on the tweets for a six-figure sum.
There is a good reason Goldman Sachs has been unable to uncover its Twitter-happy employee: He doesn’t work at the firm. And he never did.
The author is a 34-year-old former bond executive who lives in Texas. His name is John Lefevre.
(click here to continue reading @GSElevator Tattletale Exposed (He Was Not in the Goldman Elevator) – NYTimes.com.)Footnotes:
- or is it thusly? [↩]