Tag Archives | Online

Western Spy Agencies Infiltrating, Warping World of Online Activism

abc_edward_snowden_2_jt_130609_msJon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

According to newly published documents, Western spy agencies like the GCHQ and NSA have developed sophisticated online operations in which covert agents infiltrate online communities, networks and forums in order to “manipulate, deceive”—even destroy the reputations of—targeted individuals and groups even if those people have not be charged, or necessarily accused, of a crime.

Building on his previous reporting about so-called “dirty tricks” used by GCHQ to ensare, trap, and discredit online hacktivists and other digital networks, journalist Glenn Greenwald late Monday published a new series of internal agency slides—leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden—which show how a special unit, called JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group), has attempted “to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse” for its own ends. In so doing, writes Greenwald, these operations are disrupting “the integrity of the internet itself.”

Using sophisticated psychological templates, the slides show how the intelligence service believes it can use subversion to disrupt online networks by using various tactics, of which Greenwald descibes two as key: “(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.”

In just one example, a slide titled “Disruption” offers a playbook for some of the tactics used to discredit a target.

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Online Anger: Where It Comes From and How to Control It

An admission: I have, on occasion, been an asshole on the Intarwebs.  While I don’t agree that “disgruntled customers” complaining about companies is as bad a thing as online harassment and cyberbullying, this article has some useful info.  Andrea Weckerle writes at the Good Men Project:

When people are harassed, attacked or intimidated, what’s really going on is that someone is trying to take away their voice and browbeat them into submission. That’s not okay and it’s not an effective persuasion method. Unfortunately, with a low barrier to entry and the ability to remain anonymous or hide behind a pseudonym, coupled with instant dissemination, global reach, and the inability to fully retract statements, everything is amplified online. Poor self-control and anger management feed right into this. There’s a lot of hyper-aggressive posturing online, venting for the sake of venting, and being intentionally provocative just to get a reaction out of others.

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Google Will Now Pay You To Track Everything You Do Online, Via A Black Box

Would you sell off your privacy in return for a $5 gift card every three months? Ars Technica reports:

Google quietly started up the Screenwise data collection program Tuesday night, taking the e-mail addresses of people interested in “add[ing] a browser extension that will share with Google the sites you visit and how you use them.” For their participation, Google offers users a $5 Amazon gift card for every three months they stay with the program. Less publicly, Google also started looking for people who would install a piece of hardware on their network to do more extensive monitoring.

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YouTube Launches ‘Town Hall’

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Time to trade in your soap box for a viral video. The Raw Story reports:

YouTube on Wednesday launched a “Town Hall” website at which US congressional leaders address issues in brief videos and viewers get to show which positions they support.

Republicans monopolized top slots in a “leaderboard” at the online forum for debating topics from energy and debt to health care and Afghanistan.

However, rankings were shifting quickly at the freshly launched website designed to let top US politicians indirectly debate important issues and then have viewers vote for preferred positions.

While the people in the videos are identified, their party affiliations are not revealed until after a viewer has chosen a side.

“How would you vote if you focused purely on the ideas needed to make our country and our world a better place, rather than on the parties putting them forward?” Will Houghteling of YouTube News and Politics asked in a blog post.

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