The Twitter profile I gave the hat-tip to linked to a very interesting pastebin, titled “The Gentleman’s Guide to Forum Spies (spooks, feds, etc)”. It’s an incredibly interesting read, because it outlines many of the techniques, especially in the first section, that a political activist may encounter while arguing whatever the issue of the day may be. I will reproduce a portion of it below, most directly related to Internet activities. As always, just remember, there are very smart and clever people ALWAYS thinking about how to manipulate information, information flow and perception on the Internet and elsewhere.
- CONINTELPRO Techniques for Dilution, Misdirection, and Control of an Internet Forum
- Twenty-five Rules of Disinformation
- Eight Traits of the Disiniformationalist
- How to Spot a Spy (COINTELPRO Agent)
- Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression
–COINTELPRO Techniques for Dilution, Misdirection and Control of an Internet Forum:
There are several techniques for the control and manipulation of an Internet forum no matter what, or who, is on it. We will go over each technique and demonstrate that only a minimal number of operatives can be used to eventually and effectively gain control of an “uncontrolled forum.”
Technique #1 — “Forum Sliding”
If a very sensitive posting of a critical nature has been posted on a forum – it can be quickly removed from public view by “forum sliding.” In this a technique a number of unrelated posts are quietly prepositioned on the form and allowed to “age.” Each of these mis-directional forum postings can then be called upon at will to trigger a “forum slide.” The second requirement is that several fake accounts exist, which can be called upon, to ensure that this technique is not exposed to the public. To trigger a “forum slide” and “flush” the critical post out of public view it is simply a matter of logging into each account both real and fake and then “replying” to prepositioned postings with a simple one or two line comment. This brings the unrelated postings to the top of the forum list, and the critical posting “slides” down the front page, and quickly out of view. Although it is difficult or impossible to censor the posting it is now lost in a sea of unrelated and un-useful postings. By this means it becomes effective to keep the readers of the forum reading unrelated and non-issue items.
Technique #2 — “Consensus Cracking”
A second highly effective technique (which you can see in operation all the time at abovetopsecret.com) is “consensus cracking”. To develop a consensus crack, the following technique is used. Under the guise of a fake account a posting is made which looks legitimate and is towards the truth is made – but the critical point is that it has a VERY WEAK PREMISE without substantive proof to back the posting. Once this is done, then under alternative fake accounts a very strong position in your favour is slowly introduced over the life of the posting. It is IMPERATIVE that both sides are initially presented, so the uninformed reader cannot determine which side is truth. As postings and replies are made, the stronger “evidence” or disinformation in your favour is slowly “seeded in.” Thus the uninformed reader will most likely develop the same position as you, and if their position is agains you, their opposition to your posting will most likely have dropped. However in some cases where the forum members are highly educated and can counter your disinformation with real facts and linked postings, you can then “abort” the consensus cracking by initiating a “forum slide.”
Technique #3 — “Topic Dilution”
Topic dilution is not only effective in forum sliding, it is also very useful in keeping the forum readers on unrelated and non-productive issues. This is a critical and useful technique to cause a “resource burn.” By implementing continual and non-related postings that distract and disrupt (trolling), the forum readers are more effectively stopped from anything of any real productivity. If the intensity of the gradual dilution is intense enough, the readers will effectively stop researching and simply slip into “gossip mode.” In this state they can be more easily misdirected away from facts towards uninformed conjecture and opinion. The less informed they are, the more effective and easy it becomes to control the entire group in the direction that you would desire the group to go in. It must be stressed that a proper assessment of the psychological capabilities and levels of education is first determined of the group to determine at what level to “drive in the wedge.” By being too far off topic too quickly, it might trigger censorship by a forum moderator.
Technique #4 — “Information Collection”
Information collection is also a very effective method to determine the psychological level of the forum members, and to gather intelligence that can be used against them. In this technique, a light and positive environment (of) “you show me yours, I’ll show you mine” posting is initiated. From the number of replies and the answers that are provided, much statistical information can be gathered. An example is to post your “favourite weapon” and then encourage other members of the forum to showcase what they have. In this matter it can be determined by reverse proration what percentage of the forum community owns a firearm, and/or an illegal weapon. This same method can be used by posing as one of the forum members and posting your favourite “technique of operation.” From the replies, various methods that the group utilizes can be studied and effective methods developed to stop them from their activities.
Technique #5 — “Anger Trolling”
Statistically, there is always a percentage of the forum posters who are more inclined to violence. In order to determine who these individuals are, it is a requirement to present an image to the forum to deliberately incite a strong psychological reaction. From this, the most violent in the group can be effectively singled out for IP location and possibly local enforcement tracking. To accomplish this only requires posting a link to a video depicting a local police officer massively abusing his power against a very innocent individual. Statistically of the million or so police officers in America, there is always one or two being caught abusing their powers and the taping of the activity can be then used for intelligence gathering purposes — without the requirement to “stage” a fake abuse video. This method is extremely effective, and the more so the abusive the video can be made to look. Sometimes it is useful to “lead” the forum by replying to your own posting with your statement of violent intent, and that you “do not care what authorities think!!” By doing this and showing no fear, it may be more effective in getting the more silent and self-disciplined violent intent members of the forum to slip and post their real intentions. This can be used later in a court of law during prosecution.
Technique #6 — “Gaining Full Control”
It is important to also be harvesting and continually maneuvering for a forum moderator position. Once this position is obtained, the forum can then be effectively and quietly controlled by deleting unfavourable postings — and one can eventually steer the forum into complete failure and lack of interest by the general public. This is the “ultimate victory” as the forum is no longer participated with by the general public and on longer useful in maintaining their freedoms. Depending on the level of control you can obtain, you can deliberately steer a forum into defeat by censoring postings, deleting memberships, flooding, and or accidentally taking the forum offline. By this method, the forum can be quickly killed. However it is not always in the interest to kill a forum as it can be converted into a “honeypot” gathering enter to collect and misdirect newcomers and from this point be completely used for your control for your agenda purposes.
Remember these techniques are only effective if the forum participants DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THEM. Once they are aware of these techniques the operation can completely fail, and teh forum can become uncontrolled. At this point, other avenues must be considered such as initiating false legal precedence to simply have the forum shut down and taken offline. This is not desirable as it then leaves the enforcement agencies unable to track the percentage of those in the population who always resist attempts to control them. Many other techniques can be utilized and developed by the individual and as you develop further techniques of infiltration and control, it is imperative to then share with HQ.
Fun stuff eh? I know for a fact that there are operatives out there who will target right-leaning websites to do much of what was described above. How do I know? Take a gander:
A few highlights of “25 Rules of Disinformation”
- 2. Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used to show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the “HOW DARE YOU!” gambit.
- 5. Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary “attack the messenger” ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as “kooks”, “right-wing”, “liberal”, “left-wing”, “terrorists”, “conspiracy buffs”, “radicals”, “militia”, “racists”, “religious fanatics”,”sexual deviants,” and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.
- 9. Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues except with denials they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.
- 12. Enigmas have no solution. Drawing upon the overall umbrella of events surrounding the crime and the multitude of players and events, paint the entire affair as too complex to slove. This causes those otherwise following the matter to begin to lose interest more quickly without having to address the actual issues.
- 18. Emotionalize, Antagonize and Goad Opponents. If you can’t do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents and draw them into emotional responses which will tend to make them look overly foolish and overly motivated, and generally render their material somewhat less coherent. Not only will you avoid discussing the issues in the first instance, but even if their emotional response addresses the issue, you can further avoid the issues by then focusing on how “sensitive they are to criticism.”
- 19. Ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs. This is perhaps a variant of the “play dumb” rule. Regardless of what material may be presented by an opponent in public forums, claim the material irrelevant and demand proof that is impossible for the opponent to come by (it may exist, but not be at his disposal, or it may be something which is known to be safely destroyed or withheld) In order to completely avoid discussing issues, it may be required that you categorically deny and be critical of media or books as valid sources, deny that witnesses are acceptable, or even deny that statements made by government or other authorities have any meaning or relevance.
- Silence critics. If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive solution so that the need to address issues is removed entirely. This can be their death, arrest and detention, blackmail or destruction of their character by release of blackmail information, or merely by destroying them financially, emotionally, or severely damaging their health.