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NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the flu-nsa-llnl-juarez-waco-plf-hacker-cointelpro dept.

Privacy 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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347 comments

Fuck Beta! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332901)

This message paid for by the NSA.

I wonder (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332905)

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

Re:I wonder (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 2 months ago | (#46332937)

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 (4, Insightful)

nucrash (549705) | about 2 months ago | (#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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333139)

The Ukraine is way ahead of you guys.

(assuming you're an inhabitant of the USA)

Re:I wonder (1, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 months ago | (#46333083)

Try to focus on arguments of fact, not arguments of person or source.

I find that facts often count for little and are often moderated down if they don't conform to the prevailing politics of the moment on Slashdot.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333189)

I find that facts often count for little and are often moderated down if they don't conform to the prevailing politics of the moment on Slashdot.

That's been the case here since time immemorial. Your recent gripes about /. moderation aren't going to change anything. Perhaps you should just shut up and deal with it.

Re:I wonder (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about 2 months ago | (#46333325)

The sign of true prevailing politics, or attitude, is subdued infighting. Not something that characterizes slashdot.

Here he is! (5, Interesting)

torsmo (1301691) | about 2 months ago | (#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?

Re:I wonder (4, Interesting)

mean pun (717227) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re: I wonder (5, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

Re: I wonder (2)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 months ago | (#46333459)

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 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333095)

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

Re:I wonder (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333141)

Doesn't matter. If you think some of them are or could possibly be shills, then the effort has already had one of the desired side-effects: cast doubt on what is in fact truthful, so that you can't easily recognize it as such. Inject a few plausible-sounding falsehoods into that, and the job is done.

None (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333171)

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

None. GHCQ nor any of u...them at the NSA do thi...that kind of thing. The security agencies are business finding threats to national security and the power elite....scratch that last one ....we can't be honest here. Fill in some non-sense about balancing freedom and security. That should keep the plebes fighting among themselves and confused further.

-AC
:DBNR

Re:I wonder (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 months ago | (#46333383)

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

All of them. /. only has a thousand or so actual users. The rest work for the NSA. And the /. Server is actually at Fort Meade.

Be seeing you. ;)

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333429)

What makes you think the article itself isn't from shills? There have been an awful lot of leaks lately from *security* agencies. Ever think maybe they wanted (some of) these leaks to happen? It makes a great distraction for folks for whatever else they are up to. After all, we have known for decades that they are eavesdropping on our networked communications, so that really is old news. Who cares if everyone knows for certain now? They are on to bigger things.

No they are not (5, Funny)

mrspoonsi (2955715) | about 2 months ago | (#46332909)

It is all a lie

Re:No they are not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332945)

Ahhh applying a bit of distraction, denial, and disinformation techniques are we? As a pyscho pro, I would also add some Anger Trolling and Topic Hijacking as well: HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE THE NSA OF THAT WITH 0 PROOF YOU MORONS!? Btw has anyone seen the next snapchat yet? Any thoughts so far on the future of texting??? :)

Re:No they are not (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332967)

Hello, shill. What's your salary?

Re: No they are not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333079)

"It is all a lie"

There is no spoon!

This is pretty fucked up (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 months ago | (#46332915)

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.

Re:This is pretty fucked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333211)

Prison Planet?? Did you really think that all the people who have been screaming about these things for years were just tinfoil-hatters? And that's assuming everything on Prison Planet is tinfoil-hat-level reporting...maybe 10 years ago, but today, hell, it's more accurate than CNN. You haven't been paying attention.

Re:This is pretty fucked up (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about 2 months ago | (#46333487)

If a bunch of crazy hobos are arguing over whether or not a coin toss will come up heads or tails, the party that guess correctly does not deserve vindication. In other words, the validation of a prediction does not imply the reasoning behind the prediction was sound. Some idjit will misinterpret this as saying "It was a random chance that the gov was spying on us", or something equally stupid (I won't respond to such idjitness).

Not the NSA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332923)

Anyone who believes in this crap is an idiot.

Government is your friend. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332929)

They know what's right for you. Vote Republican.

Well shit - that explains a lot (5, Interesting)

korbulon (2792438) | about 2 months ago | (#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:Well shit - that explains a lot (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332981)

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.

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333185)

People by and large get their news from similar sources and all too often the idea of "news" is blatant opinion.

I'm one of those people who criticize Snowden and the NSA so I don't believe that all Snowden "bashers" are shills even though I don't doubt they exist.

Some shills might not even know or care that they're being used. The recent PBS Frontline was about online marketing and social media. They talked about promoting Hunger Games, but I believe the same tactics can be used to promote political views.

They interviewed a teen girl who was a huge fan. She earns "sparks" at a particular fan site by posting, tweeting and liking as many Hunger Games related things as possible. They talked about schedules for releasing photos, clips, information and watching it go viral all with very little effort. Fans like this girl do their work for them. She even seemed to realize this, but didn't care. She got a tweet from one of the actors and gained a bunch of followers.

The same tactics can be used to promote the idea that Snowden is a traitor who has put national security at risk. You get stories started about him and it doesn't even matter how accurate they are, people will see them and share them with others. If they can call in to Rush's radio show that helps spread ideas too and too many people don't have a healthy sense of skepticism. They'll think "I heard it on the radio, there must be something to it and the story will evolve as word of mouth spreads it among the faithful.

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (-1, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 months ago | (#46333021)

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!"

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.

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (3)

korbulon (2792438) | about 2 months ago | (#46333105)

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.

From Wikipedia article on the fourth amendment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org] :

The U.S. Supreme Court responded to these questions by outlining the fundamental purpose of the amendment as guaranteeing "the privacy, dignity and security of persons against certain arbitrary and invasive acts by officers of the Government, without regard to whether the government actor is investigating crime or performing another function."

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (-1, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 months ago | (#46333283)

Fine. Unfortunately that doesn't change the court rulings that have found the NSA and FBI actions that many find so disagreeable as being legal. As far as I have read they are complying with the law.
 

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (3, Informative)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 2 months ago | (#46333419)

Unfortunately that doesn't change the court rulings that have found the NSA and FBI actions that many find so disagreeable as being legal. As far as I have read they are complying with the law.

Since there is at least one ruling [washingtonpost.com] that finds the NSA's surveillance of US citizens as "probably unconstitutional", it remains to be seen if the NSA is actually complying with the law.

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (5, Insightful)

korbulon (2792438) | about 2 months ago | (#46333563)

And I see you're more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Not sure what's worse, a shill, or an amateur apologist. At least I can somewhat comprehend the motives of a shill. The apologist, not so much.

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333133)

What you've just stated is a "dodgy fact."

You should know. You're quite the expert when it comes to dodgy "facts".

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (5, Interesting)

Noryungi (70322) | about 2 months ago | (#46333229)

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 [wikipedia.org], 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 [un.org]. 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.

Law?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333247)

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!"

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.

You mean that abomination the PATRIOT Act? That law? The one written by Republicans, supported by the Democrats, signed into law by George W. Bush used with gusto and is still being used with gusto by Obama? That law?

And what about the Fourth Amendment - you know, all that stuff about unlawful searches and seizures [wikipedia.org] - the US Constitution - THE LAW of the LAND is being torn to shreds by corrupt politicians and supported by cowards?

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (5, Interesting)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 2 months ago | (#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:Well shit - that explains a lot (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 2 months ago | (#46333135)

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.

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (1)

StormReaver (59959) | about 2 months ago | (#46333167)

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.

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (-1, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 months ago | (#46333469)

Assassinate "Assange's character"? That hardly seems possible, the target is too small to hit.

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333529)

I see what you did there.

Re:Well shit - that explains a lot (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#46333363)

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.

Same shit, different media (3, Insightful)

cgfsd (1238866) | about 2 months ago | (#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.

shhhhh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333051)

now now, it is not so bad. Perhaps it is time for folks to go off and find some nice pr0n on the google so that everybody can calm down and refocus.

Re:Same shit, different media (1)

Noryungi (70322) | about 2 months ago | (#46333231)

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

ironic (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332973)

What better way to disrupt an online forum than make its layout unusable - like beta?

Re:ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332993)

Do you know what is ironic?

This image [firstlook.org] from the article.
I wonder if it is intentional.

What a load of Balls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332989)

These agencies are tasked with protecting YOUR rights not eroding them. Would you prefer to live in constant fear, as if in Israel? Syria? Egypt? Iran? Pakistan? Mexico? China? North Korea? New Jersey? I didn't think so. Instead of berating you SHOULD be clapping a well-done!

Not from the NSA or that other one. Really. Not.

Re:What a load of Balls! (1)

Sique (173459) | about 2 months ago | (#46333039)

No, really not. We should recommend the governments in Israel, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Mexico, China, North Korea and New Jersey to finally implement all those surveillance systems, sting operations, character and person assassination techniques our agencies use to finally make their countries better places.

Re:What a load of Balls! (2)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 2 months ago | (#46333153)

Would you prefer to live in constant fear, as if in Israel? Syria? Egypt? Iran? Pakistan? Mexico? China? North Korea?

I'm much more afraid of living in constant fear of my own country.

Only the NSA???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332997)

As far as I know this has been happening all along by anyone with an agenda, I'd bet even Greenwald is guilty of it from time to time. Hell, the NSA is probably learning a lot about the best way to do it by monitoring the internet.

dark matters never ending holycost in reruns again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46332999)

we unchosens (pretend you're not one of us if it suits you) have been here numerous times Ihttp://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=unrepentant&sm=3? so http://youtu.be/RnOXkedBmRs [youtu.be] here we are again...

Slashdot only allows anonymous users to post 10 times per day (more or less, depending on moderation). A user from your IP has already shared his or her thoughts with us that many times almost

cold fjord (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333001)

But cold fjord told us his bosses didn't pay him to shill. Apparantely, he just whores himself out for free.

Re:cold fjord (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333431)

Who are you shilling for, and why are you attacking another person for posting their personal views? Are you being paid by China? Russia? Iran? Al Qaida?

the irony... (0)

Maimun (631984) | about 2 months ago | (#46333033)

Ironically, the Russians (that gave Snowden shelter) have been doing that same thing for as long as Internet is available there.

Re:the irony... (-1, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 months ago | (#46333159)

Soviet / Russian agents were engaged in the most subtle intelligence operations long, long before that.

The Real James Bond [crimelibrary.com]

As to "sheltering" Snowden, it seems he was in contact with the Russians before his arrival in Moscow, and that his arrival was no surprise. In the view of a number of former Soviet bloc intelligence officers, Snowden was collaborating with them for some time.

Re:the irony... (1)

geogob (569250) | about 2 months ago | (#46333181)

How is that irony? And, much more important question, how would you come to think that it is any different in the USA, UK or any other western countries? Whats the point of trying to change the focuse of the discussion towards Russia? They all have been doing that since even before the Internet existed. I can't see how things could have been any different in the Internet Era.

Re:the irony... (2)

Noryungi (70322) | about 2 months ago | (#46333253)

This is precisely the reason why WE (Americans/Europeans) have to stand up for what is right.

In Russia, cross the wrong person and you may find yourself in prison for a very long time.

At least, in the US and in the EU, we can still stand up for our rights.

Offshore or Inhouse, paid or volunteer? (1)

number17 (952777) | about 2 months ago | (#46333041)

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?

The slides... (0)

astro (20275) | about 2 months ago | (#46333059)

Has anyone actually looked at the slides? To me, they appear so completely, laughably fake. Reminds me of amateur materials for spy / sci-fi role playing dice and books games from the 80s.

Now tell me that I am a shill for discrediting these obviously genuine training materials.

Re:The slides... (1)

geogob (569250) | about 2 months ago | (#46333219)

I'm sure you'd get bonus points at the game for posting fake material about posting fake material to manipulate public opinion in order to manipulate public opinion on the material published.

Re:The slides... (5, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 months ago | (#46333305)

Poor quality graphics. Ridiculously complex infographics. Irrelevant pictures. Overuse of mantras. Incredible lack of consistency. A powerpoint presentation this bad has to be from a government or a large corporation.

Re:The slides... (4, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | about 2 months ago | (#46333341)

At one point or another, you have to believe someone. Greenwald & Snowden are, to me at least, a lot more credible than anything the NSA and GCHQ may say or do.

Fact: we know Snowden worked for NSA. The NSA has admitted as much.

Fact: we know Snowden has left NSA with a cache of several thousands of classified NSA/GCHQ documents. The NSA has admitted as much.

Fact: we know Snowden has communicated most of these classified documents to Glenn Greenwald and associates. They have both said so many times.

The fact that the presentation is amateurish does not diminish its value or disproves its origins - after all, GCHQ boffins are not required to take PowerPoint courses... or are they? (We won't know either way - don't bother replying to that question).

Reasoning just five minutes shows that the quality of the presentation or the smartness of its content is irrelevant to the information it imparts to us: that we are under surveillance, and subjected to relentless secret "psy-ops". That information alone is chilling.

Re:The slides... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#46333561)

Genuine training materials can vary from section to section, contractor to contractor, gov to gov, year to year....
Also the idea that you only give a broad overview to all new cleared staff is just good basic security.
It would mostly be for introductions and training i.e. what can be done and might need rushed computer support on varied servers around the world.
e.g. ip locations that seem local, spelling, using the correct free IM for that part of the world, ensuring back dated logs, looked and feel to art work, any fake metadata in images, faked blogs fit the time line of the events and style of been home made 3-5 years ago.., that names used are not too early or late... in some life story to shatter confidence in a person..
vs the ongoing years of legends on a site such as Slashdot
The deeper stuff is for the teams who actually work on the methods day to day. e.g.
A slashdot sock puppet could follow the classic ideas in "The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies (spooks, feds, etc.)"
http://cryptome.org/2012/07/ge... [cryptome.org]
You would see a picture of name calling, left right rants, trying to save up the mod points by pushing bland science stories. Trying to invoke authority by posting many different links to left/right media all reporting on the same simple media release backs up their world view.
Trying to change the subject to make it all seem so legal.... post as an anonymous coward and then 'jump in' later...

It's not how I want my tax dollars spent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333067)

Lots of things I read, from Master and Command to Bourne trilogy, Baroque Cycle, etc., leads me to believe that our governments do employ people just to engage in random malicious acts. Acts which have no particular motivation, no plan; just people doing bad things for no reason.

I guess just to keep everyone on their toes? Why else?

But that's not how I want my tax dollars spent. It just rubs me the wrong way, morally.

It's time to stop. We don't live in the early 19th century. It's time to stop acting like it.

Character assasination, way more effective (5, Interesting)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 2 months ago | (#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?

So they invented beta? (0, Offtopic)

mythix (2589549) | about 2 months ago | (#46333093)

So the NSA invented beta and is pushing it on us to get us to leave this source of information??

I knew beta was EVIL!

Re:So they invented beta? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333143)

Beta is the victim. They pushed it before a train.

Re:So they invented beta? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333161)

So the NSA invented beta and is pushing it on us to get us to leave this source of information??

No, that's just what they want you to think.

Training material? What for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333099)

Just point them to Usenet, comp.os.linux.advocacy.

examples (1)

lkcl (517947) | about 2 months ago | (#46333123)

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....

False information.. on the internet? (3, Funny)

Kasar (838340) | about 2 months ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

wytcld (179112) | about 2 months ago | (#46333147)

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.

GCHQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333209)

It's GCHQ, but we all knew that, right?

Re:GCHQ (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 months ago | (#46333297)

It's GCHQ, but we all knew that, right?

No GCHQ is a well loved benign organisation that has never been wrong or done harm. It is frequently confused for GHCQ, who was responsible for phone tapping, dodgy dossiers and more. GHCQ is believed to be run by that dubious organisation "liberty" together with those who want to cut spy funding.

.... that 'll be £5 shill fees £5 please

Lies! (2, Funny)

Buck Feta (3531099) | about 2 months ago | (#46333315)

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.

none of this will of course work. (3, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about 2 months ago | (#46333345)

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.

Now listen NSA we've seen this all before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333417)

We don't feed trolls. Even trolls with an official stamp.

Is it ok when Glenn Greenwald does it? (1)

Full Metal Jackass (998734) | about 2 months ago | (#46333435)

It looks like Glenn Greenwald himself is something of a sock-puppeteer [ace.mu.nu] himself.

But then maybe I'm a shill. Or maybe I'm a victim of shills. Or maybe I'm just biased and easily led because I think that GG is thoroughly intellectually dishonest in at least some of the statements [samharris.org] that he does put his own name on.

BTW: If you care to read that one through, it culminates with the best smackdown [twitter.com] I remember seeing.

Cost/benefit analysis please (4, Interesting)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 2 months ago | (#46333439)

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 ?

And you expected what else from ... (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about 2 months ago | (#46333449)

...  Soros/Obama.nation/Holder/Shumer/Feinstein pimps ? The entire vipernest of lib.com  powermongers practices  corrosive mental infestation as naturally as  a spaz drools. 

Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46333457)

The slideshow has to be the real thing. Too much thought in it. Especially look at those last few slides. So why is it that we have an NSA again?

The Theory is larger than the Conspiracy (1)

Tempest451 (791438) | about 2 months ago | (#46333555)

I was just thinking, if I wanted to create enough fear that our my enemies would be looking over their shoulders everytime they used the internet, nothing would work better than creating the belief that I was omnipresent on the web. One the one side, people are certain that the government in incapable of managing the simplest of programs or managing it's own affairs, but when given the notion that that same government could orchestrate a massive campaign of internet monitoring and targeted strikes again individuals, most seem to have no doubt of it's validity. Every other week there is a new revelation of the widening scope of the NSA powers to peer into every aspect of our lives and yet when asked, people still believe that same government is buying $400 toilet seats. Perhaps the biggest conspiracy is that the NSA isn't omnipresent, but wants you to think they are.
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