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Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek To Control the Internet

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the learning-to-troll dept.

United Kingdom 117

Advocatus Diaboli writes The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, "amplif[y]" sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be "extremist." The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call. The tools were created by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG's use of "fake victim blog posts," "false flag operations," "honey traps" and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.

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It's worked, too (4, Insightful)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a month ago | (#47451571)

Whenever I saw someone write something retarded on the internet in the past, I just chalked it up to the person in question genuinely being retarded. The idea that a government agency might intentionally be contributing retardation to poison genuine discussion seemed ridiculous on the face of it. Now, every time I read something and think "no one can really be that stupid, can they?" I've begun to wonder. Maybe no one CAN really be that stupid...

Never had one fail? (1)

RDW (41497) | about a month ago | (#47451611)

The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls

Right now on Slashdot, you can see the results of this blatant manipulation in the service of their sinister paymasters in the energy-saving lightbulb industry...

Re:Never had one fail? (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a month ago | (#47454487)

I wonder if they log the data before or after they modified it?

Well, looky here. We found somebody who just did a google image search that just so happened to return some kiddie porn images. Off to jail with him.

Re:It's worked, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47452007)

FUCK /. Beta!!

Re:It's worked, too (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a month ago | (#47452463)

Don't attribute to (NSA/GCHQ 's) malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. But keep open that option anyway, specially if that apparent stupidity makes you think/feel/behave in a different way, or may do that to someone else.

Re:It's worked, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47455873)

> Don't attribute to (NSA/GCHQ 's) malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Why not? All that old saw ever did is protect the guilty and give them more room to operate. There are large heavily monied interests trying to control the discourse. You should always keep that in mind and stop beings a naive blinkered "citizen".

Re:It's worked, too (4, Interesting)

sd4f (1891894) | about a month ago | (#47452713)

I have often wondered about it, but never paid much attention to it. One time I read about it, from a rather dubious source (hence I just sent it to the 'conspiracy theory' pile) was regarding heavy handed wikipedia editing of the Lockerbie Plane Crash article. The allegations were that one particular editor was either a spy, government agent or even more than one person due to the incessant editing. The stated aim of the editing was to completely sanitise the wiki article and only allow the official line surrounding the events in the article. I remember reading these accusations well before anything around the arab spring and ultimate demise of Gaddafi happened. Make of that what you will.

I guess since the spy agencies ultimately do the bidding of governments, this may be a newer method of 'crowd control'; dictating the consumption of the masses. It makes sense as one always wonders why certain topics are far more popular than they should be. The media with the internet has much better ability in tracking the consumption of certain topics in the media. As a result, these sorts of things are easy to game, especially with the resources available, so maybe the espionage agencies are trying to steer people away from touchy issues by stimulating activity in certain inane topics.

Re:It's worked, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47454953)

I guess since the spy agencies ultimately do the bidding of governments, this may be a newer method of 'crowd control'; dictating the consumption of the masses. It makes sense as one always wonders why certain topics are far more popular than they should be. The media with the internet has much better ability in tracking the consumption of certain topics in the media. As a result, these sorts of things are easy to game, especially with the resources available, so maybe the espionage agencies are trying to steer people away from touchy issues by stimulating activity in certain inane topics.

But that can go only so far, because the core cause of the murmur is in detrimental actions of the side which is trying to suppress it. Therefore it is a fools errand, doomed to fail, or to bleed resources in vain. It also bases its theory of operation on elitist BS, a non-fact that masses are inherently stupid and that you can indefinitely fool them and control them by plucking out or blanking out prominent individuals (like there will never come new ones in their places), who only happen to voice public opinions and public sentiments in somewhat more comprehensive manner. In short term, that strategy causes debilitating confusion of masses, but in the long run it backfires in random explosions of massive irrational rage, because frustration was never removed, but safe options and paths of resolutions were.

Re:It's worked, too (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47453365)

Whenever I saw someone write something retarded on the internet in the past, I just chalked it up to the person in question genuinely being retarded. The idea that a government agency might intentionally be contributing retardation to poison genuine discussion seemed ridiculous on the face of it. Now, every time I read something and think "no one can really be that stupid, can they?" I've begun to wonder. Maybe no one CAN really be that stupid...

It's a nonsense that's been thoroughly debunked. We ran a poll in the foremost security forum, and only 3 respondents said it was possible, while the other 9 billion said it wasn't.

Re:It's worked, too (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a month ago | (#47454785)

A good example of tactics that look a lot like what is described in the article are used by people like this slashdot user:
http://slashdot.org/~cold+fjor... [slashdot.org]

Re: It's worked, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47455259)

True story bro. I used to post daily on Slashdot and was regularly modded up. One day I got a reply on an Islam oriented thread that refered to a very specific activity I had been involved in, in another country, of which photos had been recently posted to Facebook. My Slashdot account contained no personal details. There was no link between my Slashdot account and Facebook account other than being registered to the same private email address. My Facebook account is private and photos visible only to friends. So either it was a very lucky guess, or someone out there is watching and engaging "influential" Slashdot posters on topics of interest. I always wondered about that.

Re: It's worked, too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47456007)

True story bro. I used to post daily on Slashdot and was regularly modded up. One day I got a reply on an Islam oriented thread that refered to a very specific activity I had been involved in, in another country, of which photos had been recently posted to Facebook. My Slashdot account contained no personal details. There was no link between my Slashdot account and Facebook account other than being registered to the same private email address. My Facebook account is private and photos visible only to friends. So either it was a very lucky guess, or someone out there is watching and engaging "influential" Slashdot posters on topics of interest. I always wondered about that.

Sounds like coincidence. Perhaps one of your friends on Facebook made the reply having recognised it was you from your writing. I don't think we should be too paranoid about this.

PS. Stop picking your nose, sit up straight, and if you're going to put your laptop at that angle will you please put some trousers on.

Re:It's worked, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47456087)

That was some of my best work, you insensitive clod!

SHOCKED! (0)

sanjacguy (908392) | about a month ago | (#47451605)

I am shocked, SHOCKED, at the gambling that goes on in this establishment!
http://youtu.be/SjbPi00k_ME [youtu.be]

And we're PAYING them to do this to us! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451617)

End all spy organizations.

Ugh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451619)

Swamp donkey: is a tool that will silenty locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a targets machine.

And I'm guessing when they've done that they jail the person for failing to decrypt the files under that nasty little RIPA act?

Re:Ugh... (1)

mikael (484) | about a month ago | (#47456013)

Always keep offline backups.

So... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451625)

They act like reddit, then?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451873)

1. GCHQ do it with tax money and represents a country's governmental action.
2. Reddit users are usually not doing whatever you accuse them of doing to spread disinformation and deceive, but to spread their own ideas. The GCHQ calls what they are doing deception.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47452761)

This, really.

Honestly, is that the best they can do? I could've done this, any time the past 20 years, using nothing more than a consumer-grade (originally, diallup) internet account. If that's GCHQ's idea of hacking, then the UK is in even more trouble than we knew.

Re:So... (2)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a month ago | (#47454795)

The point isn't "look at the technology", it's "look at the behaviour" - look at what a government is willing to do to make sure the democratic will of the people is what they think it should be. Right now, with the amount of noise in the British press about so-called "cybernats" (trolls in favour of Scottish independence, a very tiny minority typically blow out of all proportion by the media), it's a sobering thought,

They had to use the unweildy acronym "GCHQ" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451639)

b/ was taken.

Vandals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451663)

Only one word for it: Vandalism

Poll Results (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a month ago | (#47451667)

How to avoid being manipulated by online poll results

Short answer: don't buy into online poll results.

Polls are one of the worst methods of "information gathering" known to man, in terms of accuracy; online polls, doubly so. Not only do you have to be concerned with how the polls are worded, how large a sample size is used, and what group of people were used for the sample, you also have to consider that not every poll respondent is answering honestly 100% of the time. Take the "drug use" polls, many of which are now saying that marijuana use is up in teens. Is usage really up? Is the question just worded in a different way than the last poll? Or has the recent bi-state decriminalization caused more people to be willing to be honest in a poll that asks them if they're doing something that may be illegal where they live?

Trouble is, it seems, is that most people will ignore flawed methodology if the result of the poll is confluent with their pre-existing beliefs.

Re:Poll Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451691)

Over 87% of people agree with you.

Re:Poll Results (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a month ago | (#47451921)

Over 87% of people agree with you.

And of the remainder, 10% disagreed, and 3% would not open door.

Re:Poll Results (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month ago | (#47451933)

Lets start a sloshdot poll to see how often people believe in these so called polls!

Re:Poll Results (1)

Ardyvee (2447206) | about a month ago | (#47452331)

Meta-polls. I like it. Suggest it!

Re:Poll Results (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a month ago | (#47452467)

Polls are one of the worst methods of "information gathering" known to man...

But elections, the only polls that matter, speak volumes. Salesmen know their trade... Some may claim they're being hacked, but it still boils down to free choice. The trinkets and money have no power of their own. Media polls are pure advertising and distractions that exploit known psychological weaknesses of... the crowd

Re:Poll Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47453513)

I would be interesting to see how much poll manipulation is done related to Scottish independence.

Re:Poll Results (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a month ago | (#47455139)

There was a poll a while ago - a couple put up a blog about their unplanned pregnancy, with a poll asking people if they should abort it while they detailed the process of preparing for a baby. It's an interesting case study because it was easy to watch the swing: It started off with a majority voting to keep the baby, until 4chan got wind and flooded the site - then it went to upwards of 90% in favor of abortion. Then news spread and it was reported on many anti-abortion blogs and news services, which resulted in a flood of traffic from those sources that overwhelmed even 4chan's numbers and pushed it back in favor of keeping.

In the end it turned out to be (as many suspected) a hoax - the couple never had any intention of abortion regardless of the poll, they were just doing it as a political stunt to draw attention to the issue of abortion. It still demonstrates that the outcome of an online poll really depends upon the readership, and can be swayed easily if the poll is linked to from a popular site.

Nothing to see here (5, Informative)

PRMan (959735) | about a month ago | (#47451685)

I don't believe GCHQ is involved in anything of the sort and you shouldn't either. This story simply reeks of falsehood.

Edit: Hey, that's not what I wrote...

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451783)

I don't believe GCHQ is involved in anything of the sort and you shouldn't either. This story simply reeks of falsehood.

Edit: Hey, that's not what I wrote...

You can edit!!?? What is this last-century technology?

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451787)

Sphincternet.. ..oh I mean holy grail!!

Re:Nothing to see here (2)

rtb61 (674572) | about a month ago | (#47454363)

The requirement here is for the UK Electoral Commission To Investigate http://www.electoralcommission... [electoralc...ion.org.uk] and to ascertain whether those activities amounted to political advertising by a government agency. Where those actions designed to make the policies of the current Government look better, is so, then the government agency us guilty of a crime a subject to prosecution ie the abuse of government funds to promote the activities of the current elected politicians. It is illegal to use government funds for biased political propaganda and this is exactly what has been disclosed.

The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451695)

http://cryptome.org/2012/07/ge... [cryptome.org]

(originally titled: The Gentleman's Guide To Forum Spies)

Re:The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies (2)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month ago | (#47455133)

1. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don't discuss it -- especially if you are a public figure, news anchor , etc. If it's not reported, it didn't happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.

I don't think people appreciate the degree to which this is happening. The BBC denying that white phosphorus is used as a chemical weapon by the west is a classic example of propaganda.

SUCKERS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451717)

Oh how I'd love to sit in front of several monitors at once, watching the world's secrets fly by.

I support the NSA.

Cold Fjord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451723)

No, say it isn't true.

If... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451731)

If the GCHQ is doing it, then the NSA is doing it.

Re:If... (0)

sumdumass (711423) | about a month ago | (#47451771)

I was wondering how long it would take for the "but evil America" comments to show. You didn't keep me waiting long even though you lacked creativity in spelling it out.

Re:If... (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a month ago | (#47452417)

I love how any critique of the American government, no matter how intellectual, or how much hard evidence exists, somehow gets retorted with "HURR EVAL AMURIKKKA", like there is some underlying conspiracy theory against America outside a reaction to facts at hand.

Re:If... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a month ago | (#47452537)

There are a class or group of people, however you want to define them, that think no matter what the US does, says, hears, thinks, or anything, they are evil. It has nothing to do with critiques or anything but a resentment for what they think has already happened (and it may have happened too).

But I would hardly consider what I responded to intellectual or hard evidence. It was little more than a look over here suggestion implying there was some fact that the NSA was doing something bad because some other country had.

Next, I'm waiting for an "It's Bush's fault" and possibly a "that damn Obama ruining the country". And I will respond in kind or at least think it. Because after you hear the same drum beat with the lack of substance, you start getting tired of it.

Re:If... (2)

davydagger (2566757) | about a month ago | (#47452657)

>There are a class or group of people, however you want to define them, that think no matter what the US does, says, hears, thinks, or anything, they are evil. It has nothing to do with critiques or anything but a resentment for what they think has already happened (and it may have happened too).

I won't doubt that these people actually exist, but recently we've seen "HURR AMURIKKKA" comments used to describe very real concerns people have about what snowden, manning, et all have discovered, and are simply re-itterating what they've read in linked mainstream newspapers with some shock and disgust as anyone who values living in a free society should.

As for English intellegence, anything they do is considered very relivant to the USA because they are part of the five eyes partnership.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Eyes

Re:If... (2)

cyrano.mac (916276) | about a month ago | (#47452787)

"There are a class or group of people, however you want to define them, that think no matter what the US does, says, hears, thinks, or anything, they are evil."

Yes there are. They are the world's population. Even your allies don't like you. Now, why would that be?

Re:If... (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | about a month ago | (#47453769)

it may look like that when they consistently say that the US is evil, but it actully just turns out to be a coincidence, and most of what america does is evil. If they spent 10% of the trillions they spend on killing people and controlling people, on actully helping people, then a lot less people would hate them.

Re:If... (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month ago | (#47455267)

Because after you hear the same drum beat with the lack of substance, you start getting tired of it.

Set up an irrelevant straw man and knock it down why don't you.

But I would hardly consider what I responded to intellectual or hard evidence. It was little more than a look over here suggestion implying there was some fact that the NSA was doing something bad because some other country had.

You seem to need some caffeine, that is gibberish considering there is no parent post to yours.

This article of course does not lack substance, the source is NSAs own data.

Re:If... (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month ago | (#47455303)

Oops, the parent link disappears when you're replying to a post, didn't know that.

Re: If... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47455305)

Why so defensive? It is a matter of public record that the US government has contracted corporations to build software that enables them to socially manipulate forums and web sites.

Re:If... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47452801)

Why use more words than are needed?

governments are catching up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451763)

to what my buddies do.. and they make 5 figures a day from doing this stuff.

you can't trust online polls at all.

Re:governments are catching up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47453089)

Brian? Is that you??

And suddenly V doesn't sound so unlikely a scenari (2)

pkinetics (549289) | about a month ago | (#47451781)

It could never happen, and yet it does

Re:And suddenly V doesn't sound so unlikely a scen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451807)

But V was all about killing all the members of congress. Fawkes was a hero for trying. That is why his kind is so great and the Republicans are such morons. They don't want to clean house. There's no way to fix the current broken system without cleaning house. Even the moron Tom Clancey recommended the Muslims do it. That is why there is no hope for this country. The Republicans have destroyed it.

Re:And suddenly V doesn't sound so unlikely a scen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451849)

Fuy Fawkes was no hereo. He was hyper-religious loser.

Re:And suddenly V doesn't sound so unlikely a scen (1)

dugancent (2616577) | about a month ago | (#47451909)

Guy Fawkes, but you're correct.

Re:And suddenly V doesn't sound so unlikely a scen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47452271)

Even the moron Tom Clancey recommended the Muslims do it.

Actually it was an old and (so he believed) disgraced Japanese pilot who killed most of Congress, as well as the Supreme Court and most of the senior Executive Branch. Not a Muslim. Muslims have actually only killed a couple thousand people(mostly in Sum of All Fears-without that nuke the count is at best in the upper hundreds) combined in his books (unless you count Red Storm Rising where 3 Azerbaijani Muslims destroy an oil refinery thereby precipitating World War 3). The Russians and the Chinese have always been the larger threats in Tom Clancy novels.

Re:And suddenly V doesn't sound so unlikely a scen (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451823)

You turn scumbag government spying into "alien lizards live among us"? I think you're wearing your tinfoil hat for the wrong reason.

Re:And suddenly V doesn't sound so unlikely a scen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47452821)

You can't hide the truth from us any longer lizard overlord!

Re:And suddenly V doesn't sound so unlikely a scen (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a month ago | (#47454823)

Poll says he can.

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451791)

If they have some kind of program where they plant child pornography on someone's computer to discredit them. (Political opposition, etc.)

After all, if they have a bunch of other nefarious programs, the sky's the limit!

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47454713)

If they have some kind of program where they plant child pornography on someone's computer to discredit them. (Political opposition, etc.)

Discredit? no
Control? I couldn't possibly comment......

Re: I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47456067)

If they did, it sounds like they'd give it the cover name CHEESE PIZZA.

Anyone who... (1)

jodido (1052890) | about a month ago | (#47451801)

makes a decision based on an online poll, page count, or anything to do with YouTube deserves what they get.

Re:Anyone who... (5, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month ago | (#47452067)

makes a decision based on an online poll, page count, or anything to do with YouTube deserves what they get.

You simply don't understand how marketing works. I do it for a living (on the database/reporting/IT side of things)

Give me the power to do what GCHQ claims to be able to do and I could get the person of your choice elected president of the united states. You have no idea how powerful being able to manipulate page ranks would be. It would be staggering, unfathomable power. They could get any law passed, any person shunned, any insane conspiracy accepted as fact. Your control of the press would be unprecedented in human history. You could tank the world economy in days, that would actually be childs play.

Re:Anyone who... (1)

jodido (1052890) | about a month ago | (#47452703)

I've already seen Wagging the Dog. Science fiction. It's based on the idea that most people are very very stupid. Most people who think that never include themselves, interestingly enough.

Re:Anyone who... (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | about a month ago | (#47453843)

not necessarily stupid, but gullible and trusting of people/businesses in certain positions (they figure they must be good if they got to where they did, and if they wern't, some one good and pure would stop them). How many people command much more respect in many more areas than they deserve, just because they have been in some blockbuster movies; in the last american elections statistical people figured out if geroge clooney made a speach in california, 60% of women over a certain age would change their vote for him (in whatever direction was wanted).

Re:Anyone who... (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a month ago | (#47454833)

Believing it's only others who are manipulable makes a person supremely manipulable. True control of self starts in recognising how vulnerable you are to outside control.

Re:Anyone who... (1)

Sanians (2738917) | about a month ago | (#47455719)

It's based on the idea that most people are very very stupid. Most people who think that never include themselves, interestingly enough.

You should probably include yourself... I certainly include myself. None of us know as much as we think we know.

To really understand how useful such manipulation is, you have to think about it philosophically. How do you really know anything? You can do scientific experiments, and then calculate the statistical probability that bad luck gave you incorrect results (and so even then we still don't really know anything), but we don't have that luxury for most of what we know. Most of the time we're limited to simply accepting what other people tell us, and filtering it according to how plausible it sounds and how well it fits what we already know.

For example, you probably believe in the theory of relativity. Have you seen anything moving at near the speed of light, thus that you've witnessed that it doesn't work like Newtonian physics? Do you even know anyone who claims they have? Do you truly understand relativity, or do you just have a rough idea of how it works due to some examples of pool balls on a rubber sheet, and some explanations about time and space contraction that at least sound plausible? Do you understand those formulas and all of their implications, or do you just trust them because they're math? Do you even personally know anyone who truly understands relativity whom you know from experience wouldn't lie to you about it? ...or do you just trust intelligent scientists and so you're willing to believe anything they tell you? ...or, since you don't really know who is telling you about relativity, I guess you're actually trusting random book and web site publishers when they tell you that intelligent scientists have told them about relativity and it's 100% totally for real. Is it real? Probably, but I'll be damned if I'm going to say I know for sure.

This is where most people, even intelligent people, are at when it comes to most issues. You may be quite intelligent, but what do you really know about some random political issue other than what you've heard on random news shows, read on Wikipedia, and perhaps found via a random web search? You may think you've studied an issue, but there are people who've spent decades studying economics. Have you learned something in your hour of web searching that they didn't learn in that decade? ...and yet your vote counts as much as theirs, because we wouldn't want to be elitist.

We couldn't be elitist even if we wanted to. How do we know that those economics experts are really economics experts. They could just be some douche on Wikipedia linking to made-up articles written by made-up people with made-up credentials. Without some means to verify that our elites are actually elite, elitism can't work. So what do we do? Build up a web of trust, where we trust a friend who trusts one of his friends who trusts one of his friends who trusts that this economics expert is really an economics expert? Then wait for some clever person to find a way to subvert that?

The end result is that every issue has to be dumbed-down so that everyone can understand it, but in doing so, it's possible to make any side of an issue sound like the correct side of the issue simply by choosing what information to include and what information to exclude. The obvious solution to that is for the opposition to publish a rebuttal, explaining what was omitted in order to better inform the voters. ...but what if their rebuttal cannot be found because search results are being manipulated?

It may not be possible to fool everyone, but they only have to fool 50%, and since 50% are of below-average intelligence, a little manipulation of search results can go a long way.

Re:Anyone who... (1)

xdor (1218206) | about a month ago | (#47455861)

50% are of below-average intelligence

Assuming a Gaussian distribution. Given the rise of drug use and non-education in the United States I'm not sure that's true anymore.

Re:Anyone who... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a month ago | (#47452851)

Pentagon Wants a Social Media Propaganda Machine ( 07.15.11 )
http://www.wired.com/2011/07/d... [wired.com]
eg what was the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program, ie countermessaging is now legal with the loss of the Smith–Mundt Act.
The 'using data from the micro-blogging service as an intel source to aid" ends up in an interesting way.
US military studied how to influence Twitter users in Darpa-funded research (9 July 2014)
http://www.theguardian.com/wor... [theguardian.com]

Totally not NSA spy (1, Interesting)

Twelfth Harmonic (3464759) | about a month ago | (#47451809)

Snowden is a traitor. We (NSA) were doing all these things to make the world a better place, and then he had to ruin the surprise.
Remember that guy who betrayed Neo in Matrix? How he explained the whole rationale to Agent Smith, using a piece of steak?
Remember Daleks? How resistance is futile?
We are at the same crossroads, people. Just give in. Don't make us come after you. We both know how it'll end. Just relax. Use FB, twitter, instagram, pinterest and all the tools of procrastination. Give us the information, don't make us go after it. It will be easier for both parties
Did I mention that Snowden is a traitor and you don't count if you happen to be outside our country? Just accept it. Don't make me liberate you.

Re:Totally not NSA spy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451845)

you don't count if you happen to be outside our country

Just to be clear, you don't count if you happen to be inside our country either. Even our "minimized U.S. President".

Re:Totally not NSA spy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451861)

Remember Daleks? How resistance is futile?

I found one of 'em! This jammy spook doesn't know the difference between Daleks and the Borg.

Re:Totally not NSA spy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451871)

"Remember that guy who betrayed Neo in Matrix? How he explained the whole rationale to Agent Smith, using a piece of steak?"

Except the true reality is a reversal of the story.

I love steak, btw.

Re:Totally not NSA spy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451955)

The sad thing is that they don't realize that they actually cost society something important when they derail online discussions and polls.
It is a damage that is hard to put a number on when you prevent people from communicating freely.

I for one I'm glad our safety is being looked over (1)

StefanJ (88986) | about a month ago | (#47451821)

A firm hand on the rudder is required at troubled times such as these. We should gladly accept

NO WAIT THIS IS BS, I DI

[LOST CONNECTION]

That's not all they've done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451851)

...including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, "amplif[y]" sanctioned messages on YouTube,

Snowden has documents showing GCHQ was also behind those page widening posts in the early days of Slashdot as well as posting countless goatse and tubgirl links and other assorted crapflooding.

Re:That's not all they've done (4, Informative)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a month ago | (#47452027)

...including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, "amplif[y]" sanctioned messages on YouTube,

Snowden has documents showing GCHQ was also behind those page widening posts in the early days of Slashdot as well as posting countless goatse and tubgirl links and other assorted crapflooding.

I would like to call you troll but unfortunately they were caught Man In The Middling slashdot.

https://www.techdirt.com/artic... [techdirt.com]

Slashdot implicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451875)

This explains a lot about slashdot polls. Now where's the CowboyNeal in a tin hat option?

In other news... (3)

muckracer (1204794) | about a month ago | (#47451881)

The agency has been officially outed as GoatCHQ.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47452439)

I think you mean GoatseHQ - OMG, so that's where it came from!

And you think that its only the British Gov't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47451887)

You don't really believe what you see on the Internet, do you? You don't really think for a second that content posted by random, unknown people can be counted on for anything, do you?

Of course there are government organizations manipulating what is on the Internet - *everyone* is manipulating what is there - other governments, companies, militant organizations, random idiots in their mom's basements, extremist groups, people who are just anti-social, criminals - the list goes on and on.

Just what, exactly, did you expect would happen when people created a world-wide mechanism to anonymously distribute whatever one can type on their keyboard? You don't believe what a random person standing on a soap box at the street corner shouts at by-passers, do you? So why do you believe what a random, anonymous person on the Internet shouts at you as your browser pass by them?

In terms of mining social media, well, again, what did you expect? If people are going to be so driven by narcissism as to post personal information on the internet, of course governments, militants, criminals, etc are going to go mine it. Would you put information about yourself on a billboard over the highway? No? Then why are you putting it on the Internet?

Honestly, really, what did you expect? If you don't like the results, stop being stupid...

Inconceivable! (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about a month ago | (#47452063)

"The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, ..."

Wow they have duplicated what 12 year old trolls do every day.

'The ability to manipulate online polls' is usually just called 'just refuse cookies'.

Not Surprisingly... (2)

jddeluxe (965655) | about a month ago | (#47452227)

...this explains the downward spiral of /. comments....

Documentary (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about a month ago | (#47452427)

Clearly, many of you missed the short PBS run of the BBC documentary, Spooks, which details the exploits of MI5 in the UK. Peter Firth as the lead, great casting.

Joking aside, I don't understand all of the shock and awe at post-Snowden revelations about how various security agencies around the world operate. I have yet to see anything that comes off as remotely new knowledge since the Cold War. Yes, computers have made it easier in the years since the Cold War to store, catalog, and search data as well as automate human tasks. That's what computers were made for. Did people really think that the security services were going to act like the IRS and use the computer as a poor substitute for paper forms as opposed to modernizing and stretching technology's legs? Are people really so naive as to not understand the extreme manner to which computing advances have been driven by the needs of various secret security agencies around the world?

Re:Documentary (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a month ago | (#47453119)

Before Snowden academic people could still spin the lines about:
Universities and gov standards ensure good encryption globally.
Courts and political leaders ensure checks and balances at a national level.
Lawyers at a corporation level would never allow their brand to be tainted with extra-judicial collaboration.
The press would find out, the data collected is massive and could never be kept, sorted.
Shared intelligence sites are only looking at other nations.
The post-Snowden revelations fill in the history book gaps from the mid 1990's.
Re extreme manner to which computing advances have been driven by the needs of various secret security agencies around the world?
Sock puppets still try and spin file sizes vs global digital storage numbers, that its just metadata. A lot of talking points are been shaped for academic people.
Code reviews, better encryption, court cases, new political leaders - anything to restore the faith in junk global networking :)
During the cold war all this was compartmentalized and staff where happy to do their duty. Years later its all been turned inwards.
As the internet move beyond web 2.0 the role of classics like Operation Mockingbird https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] is just as fun with votes and trending.
Modern art was CIA 'weapon' (22 October 1995)
http://www.independent.co.uk/n... [independent.co.uk]
". The centrepiece of the CIA campaign became the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a vast jamboree of intellectuals, writers, historians, poets, and artists which was set up with CIA funds in 1950 and run by a CIA agent." Note the fun cash flow for artists, critics and tours :)
Follow the cash as always. Free massive web 2.0 sites fully funded by votes and ads?

Re:Documentary (1)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | about a month ago | (#47453629)

People with a rudimentary knowledge of international economics and politics believed any of that? Much less a decent knowledge of network hardware and software.

We can't lay large scale cognitive dissonance on politicians and government agencies. It violates all forms of rational thinking. What rational mind thinks that a government agency (e.g. the NSA) whose hiring profile is mathematics graduates and ex-marines isn't obtaining information in a questionable manner and then ripping apart encryption.

In the US we have presidents who tap the strategic oil reserves to drop gas prices a nickel or two just to improve their or their party's chances just before an election. All of these sociological maneuvers are obvious as can be. We can't hold the matchstick men accountable for setting us ablaze when the public is so complicit.

Re:Documentary (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a month ago | (#47453851)

Re "People with a rudimentary knowledge of international economics and politics believed any of that?
Their grandparents got mil/gov/police clearance, their parents got mil mil/gov/police clearance. Some of the second or third generation might have drifted into the private sector and became a contractor/consultant?
Or with skill and great grades you where the first to pass a full life story back ground/friends/family face to face interview.
As for 'decent knowledge of network hardware and software" look at crypto in the 1950-80's and what sold to nations and banks. It passed or was fast or was sold as an international interconnect standard. Why would a person risk their job, standing, profession, pension or a huge grant, effortless edu funding? If that failed you where a communist or spy or addict or ... until you where pushed out.
You have people with the decent knowledge of network hardware and software who just want to advance and build/design an outsourced part or maintain that optical splitter behind the locked door.
Recall the "Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing N.S.A.’s"
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09... [nytimes.com]
"Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987."
Just tell the private sector staff a good story and all is good for decades :) The same in the UK, Australia, Canada, NZ ...

Standard for the Brits (3, Interesting)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about a month ago | (#47452533)

This is nothing new for the UK. The only thing new is that it is done electronically rather than by old fashioned methods (ie, bribes, cajoling, blackmail). Just about every fucked up situation in the world today can be traced back to root causes that are result of UK colonial policies and the use of "intelligence" agencies from the late 1800's thru the late 1960s (when they finally became a has been).

Standard for the Brits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47452917)

Just about every fucked up situation in the world today can be traced back to root causes that are result of UK colonial policies

I don't think DRM was from colonialism. Maybe you mean the banning of slavery?

Re:Standard for the Brits (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a month ago | (#47454153)

Wow, those Brits certainly are powerful. It's like they removed choice from the entire world, thus making anything that happened afterwards not their fault. People who lack moral agency are the equivalent of children or senile elderly. Wow, that's pretty racist.

Re:Standard for the Brits (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month ago | (#47455175)

Did the citizens of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have a choice when US and UK went to war with them and bombed them (drones - Pakistan), after Tony Blair and George Bush had waited for the media to ready the public for war and the intelligence to be 'fixed' (WMDs).

'Downing street memo'

Re:Standard for the Brits (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a month ago | (#47455583)

Funny thing - assassination is the kindest possible method of war. Anyone who uses it should be commended for only killing the leaders. However, in your worldview anything USA does is automatically wrong and you look for justifications afterwards. DRONE WAR USA COWARDS WHARRRGARBL!!!! Yeah, the US military really hates a straight-up fight.

Re:Standard for the Brits (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month ago | (#47455731)

"In my world view", bollocks, don't go assuming that you know what my world view is, if you did know then you wouldn't come up with crap like "Yeah, the US military really hates a straight-up fight."

Actually these days they do hate a straight up fight, if the US entered a war now and as many US soldiers died as did enemy soldiers, the US public would hate it.

Re:Standard for the Brits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47455817)

Wow, those Brits certainly are powerful. It's like they removed choice from the entire world, thus making anything that happened afterwards not their fault. People who lack moral agency are the equivalent of children or senile elderly. Wow, that's pretty racist.

People, even intelligent people, make decisions based on what they know. When what they know is fabricated anything is possible.

Bullshit (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a month ago | (#47453585)

I call bullshit. Only the USA could possibly do anything this evil. At least, that is what I have learned from reading /.

where is austerity when you need it? (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about a month ago | (#47453765)

seems like a good candidate for a budget cut

Not true! (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month ago | (#47454877)

I conducted an online poll, and the overwhelming consensus was that the GCHQ was not manipulating poll results. In fact, most of the people commenting said that the GCHQ were the greatest, most honest, and most trustworthy agency on the planet.

This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. (1)

wiredog (43288) | about a month ago | (#47455463)

Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.

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