British Surveillance Agents Create False Internet Information

Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.

Every day the boundaries of government manipulation of social media are being redrawn as new revelations come to light on the Internet.

On Monday, Glenn Greenwald reported that the NSA’s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (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.

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Not surprisingly, the tools used by the British surveillance agency were developed by its Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) and reportedly “constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive.”

In a similar disclosure made earlier this year, Greenwald reported that GCHQ was attempting “to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse.”

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