So The Spy Services Are The Real Internet Trolls – Moon Of Alabama
Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept provides new material from the Snowden stash.
The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) includes a “Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group” which “provides most of GCHQ’s cyber effects and online HUMINT capability. It currently lies at the leading edge of cyber influence practice and expertise.” In 2011 the JTRIG had 120 people on its staff.
Here are some of its methods, used in support of British policies like for regime change in Syria and Zimbabwe:
All of JTRIG’s operations are conducted using cyber technology. Staff described a range of methods/techniques that have been used to-date for conducting effects operations. These included:
– Uploading YouTube videos containing “persuasive” communications (to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter, delay or disrupt)
– Setting up Facebook groups, forums, blogs and Twitter accounts that encourage and monitor discussion on a topic (to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter, delay or disrupt)
– Establishing online aliases/personalities who support the communications or messages in YouTube videos, Facebook groups, forums, blogs etc
– Establishing online aliases/personalities who support other aliases
– Sending spoof e-mails and text messages from a fake person or mimicking a real person (to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deceive, deter, delay or disrupt)
– Providing spoof online resources such as magazines and books that provide inaccurate information (to disrupt, delay, deceive, discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter or denigrate/degrade)
– Providing online access to uncensored material (to disrupt)
– Sending instant messages to specific individuals giving them instructions for accessing uncensored websites
– Setting up spoof trade sites (or sellers) that may take a customer’s money and/or send customers degraded or spoof products (to deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter)
– Interrupting (i.e., filtering, deleting, creating or modifying) communications between real customers and traders (to deny, disrupt, delay, deceive, dissuade or deter)
– Taking over control of online websites (to deny, disrupt, discredit or delay)
– Denial of telephone and computer service (to deny, delay or disrupt)
– Hosting targets’ online communications/websites for collecting SIGINT (to disrupt, delay, deter or deny)
– Contacting host websites asking them to remove material (to deny, disrupt, delay, dissuade or deter)
– It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.
To “deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter” is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.