Growing movement to sway public opinion through social media and even Wikipedia
Speaking from direct experience, and with refreshing honesty, a former CBS correspondent openly confirmed that the mainstream media is being covertly manipulated by well-financed political forces who are also trying to sway public opinion through social media and by editing Wikipedia articles.
Sharyl Attkisson, who also served as a correspondent with CNN, suggested that real investigative journalism is disappearing in mainstream media due to the current editorial trend to push stories in an unnatural direction in order to serve establishment agendas.
“What I hope to do with ‘Stonewalled’ [her book], is explain to the public how images that they see every day – not just on the news, but including in the news – but on social media; on television; on billboards – how these images are manipulated in covert and surreptitious ways by political forces and financially-backed forces that they have no idea about,” she told The Daily Signal. “If you can become savvy to this manipulation, and sometimes, outright propaganda, you can learn to recognize it and, sort of, filter through it – which, I think, helps people make up their own mind about what’s really going on in the world.”
Attkisson also indicated that there’s a growing movement inside Washington D.C. to affect public opinion outside of direct lobbying.
“Now, there’s a whole industry set up around manipulating public opinion or swaying public opinion in other ways – through social media; maybe, setting up blind accounts or accounts through pseudonyms; through editing Wikipedia in certain ways; through posting on Twitter and Facebook,” she stated. “There all kinds of ways that people’s opinions are being shaped through forces that they don’t know are behind the shaping of those opinions, and I really think it’s important that people know who’s behind the efforts.”
And this movement is expanding at a breakneck speed. Just a few months ago, for example, social media giant Facebook began offering “public education ad space” with content written by anti-gun groups targeted at users interested in firearm-related content.
Fortunately, in contrast to this rising propaganda, an increasing number of former mainstream journalists such as Attkisson are now heading to alternative media where investigative stories, such as how the federal government used extremely premature babies in a dangerous study, won’t be buried in favor of false narratives intended to paint the Obama administration – and the over 500 federal bureaucracies which operate with little oversight – in a positive light.
Although it’s been well-documented that the mainstream media has practically been a government mouthpiece since at least the early 1950s, when the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird began, it is refreshing and revealing to see that a former network correspondent is not only openly talking about media control, but she also views the alternative media as the solution to the controlled press that is rapidly losing influence.
“More Americans than ever are losing faith in the establishment-controlled media and are seeking out alternative sources of information,” Michael Snyder of the Economic Collapse Blog wrote. “Is this a trend that the big media companies are going to be able to reverse at some point?”
The Secret Service is purchasing software to watch users of social networks in real time, according to contract documents.
In a work order posted on Monday, the agency details information the tool will collect — ranging from emotions of Internet users to old Twitter messages.
Its capabilities will include “sentiment analysis,” “influencer identification,” “access to historical Twitter data,” “ability to detect sarcasm,” and “heat maps” or graphics showing user trends by color intensity, agency officials said.
The automated technology will “synthesize large sets of social media data” and “identify statistical pattern analysis” among other objectives, officials said.
The tool also will have the “functionality to send notifications to users,” they said.
A couple of years ago, the Homeland Security Department, the agency’s parent, got in trouble with lawmakers and civil liberties groups for a social media program that would work, in part, by having employees create fake usernames and profiles to spy on other users.
A House Homeland Security Committee panel called DHS officials into a hearing after reports the department tasked analysts with collecting data that reflected negatively on the government, such as content about the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to a Michigan jail. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has sued DHS for more information on the program.
Employees within the Secret Service’s Office of Government and Public Affairs will be using the new system, agency officials said.
Here is a full list of the software’s required functions:
- Real-time stream analysis;
- Customizable, keyword search features;
- Sentiment analysis;
- Trend analysis;
- Audience segmentation;
- Geographic segmentation;
- Qualitative, data visualization representations (heat maps, charts, graphs, etc.);
- Multiple user access;
- Functionality to have read-only users;
- Access to historical twitter data;
- Influencer identification;
- Standard web browser access with login credentials;
- User level permissions;
- Compatibility with Internet Explorer 8;
- Section 508 compliant;
- Ability to detect sarcasm and false positives;
- Functionality to send notifications to users;
- Functionality to analyze data over a given period of time;
- Ability to quantify the agency’s social media outreach/footprint;
- Vendor-provided training and technical/customer support;
- Ability to create custom reports without involving IT specialists; and
- Ability to search online content in multiple languages.
Police are increasingly turning to social media to help solve crimes and nab bad guys, but some officers are urging departments to utilize services like Twitter as tools for pre-crime prevention.
In a presentation titled, “Leveraging Social Media to Provide Actionable Intelligence,” given at a GovSec conference in Washington DC last week, two officers described how they are taking the guesswork out of policing by relying on social media, namely Twitter,to investigate and “prevent” crimes.
“One quote out there is that Twitter is seen as the new police scanner,” said Jamie Roush, Crime Analysis Unit Manager for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
The lecture’s presentation materials contain statistics noting that “3 out of every 4 law enforcement professionals are relying on social media for crime investigation and prevention,” but retired police chief Rick Graham says still not enough effort is being undertaken in the area of “pre-emptive strikes.”
“We do a pretty good job in law enforcement solving crimes after the fact,” Graham said, according to Government Security News. “But what about the proactive — the preemptive strike. Do you have 150 officers to infiltrate different locations and have the intel analyzed after the fact. I don’t think so.”
Former Sheriff Graham also asserted that officers who snoop through Twitter feeds should have no reservations about violating people’s privacy, as all information is uploaded voluntarily by users. We’re “not sabotaging people’s privacy,” he said, adding, “They’re throwing it out there.”
Statistics also showed that courts favor social media evidence when provided as justification for probable cause, with up to 87% of search warrants holding up in court.
Roush also recommended police leverage social media not only to field intelligence from citizens, but to also develop “marketing” strategies to put forth a more likable public persona, similar to how companies wage online media campaigns, stating that “in law enforcement we must do brand marketing as well.”
“Unless law enforcement gets on board…with social media then we are truly missing the boat,” Roush concluded.
Of course, the flip side of the coin is the potential for police to abuse the tools at their disposal, one such example being last year’s discovery that NSA workers were “using secret government surveillance tools to spy on the emails or phone calls of their current or former spouses and lovers,” according to Reuters.
Embarking on the prevention of future crimes also carries the inherent risk for police to misinterpret messages, extrapolate erroneous leads or target enemies of the state, leading to the arrest ofpeople who have committed no crimes, as depicted in Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report.
As evidenced by last year’s arrest of Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran Brandon Raub, there is a slippery slope that follows once authorities begin policing social media. In Raub’s case, he was only making anti-establishment comments on Facebook using colorful metaphors, yet somehow this was enough to earn him forcible incarceration and a trip to the psych ward.
In March, a Twitter user in Saudi Arabia was arrested for expressing opinions critical of the state on charges that he incited protests, mocked the Saudi king and dared voice criticism of police.
But earlier this year, police in the UK demonstrated how “proactive police work” also translates to overzealous policing when they arrested a man for merely making distasteful remarks, claiming he was engaged in “malicious communications,” when all he did was insult someone on Twitter.
Source: Joseph Marks
The Food and Drug Administration is looking for a contractor to monitor social media chatter about the drugs and other products it regulates and how that chatter shifts as a result of FDA risk warnings, solicitation documents show.
The agency is looking for a contractor that can provide historical information about the sorts of conversations consumers are having on blogs, message boards and social media sites about the product classes FDA regulates — such as drugs, medical devices, food and tobacco — and then track when the sentiment or volume of those conversations shifts, according to the sources sought notice posted on Tuesday.
FDA wants to track what makes those conversations spike, rise slowly or trend downward, the notice said, and to gather information about “about social media buzz volume over time, top sources of buzz, most popular forums of online discussion, most-cited news stories, major themes of discussion, sentiment analysis, word clouds and/or message maps, and a sample of verbatim consumer comments.”
A sources sought notice doesn’t obligate FDA to purchase any goods or services.
Source: Elizabeth Harrington
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is “mining” Facebook and Twitter to improve its social media footprint and to assess how Tweets can be used as “change-agents” for health behaviors.
The NLM, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will have software installed on government computers that will store data from social media as part of a $30,000 project announced last week.
“The National Library of Medicine is the world’s largest biomedical library and makes its stored information available online at no charge to consumers, health professionals, and biomedical scientists through a diverse suite of resources,” the agency said in a contract posted on Oct. 23. “Evaluating how its databases and other resources are utilized is an important component of continuing quality improvement and has long been an on-going program of NLM management through a potpourri of monitoring tools.”
“The world-wide explosion in the use of social media provides a unique opportunity for sampling sentiment and use patterns of NLM’s ‘customers’ and for comparing NLM to other sources of health-related information,” the agency said.
“By examining relevant tweets and other comments,” the contract said, “NLM will gain insights to extent of use, context for which information was sought, and effects of various health-related announcements and events on usage patterns.”
Specifically, NLM will look at the “value of tweets and other messages as teaching tools and change-agents for health-relevant behavior.”
“The overarching objective of these studies is to obtain a richer understanding of how consumers, clinicians, researchers actually look for the health-related information they seek, and what they do with what they find,” NLM said in a response to frequently asked questions about the project.
OhMyGov Inc., a media company that specializes in the promotion of government agencies, will be paid $30,660 to monitor social media for NLM for one year.
The company will install software on computers at NLM headquarters in Bethesda, Md. to “maintain a comprehensive ‘universe’ of social media data.” Government bureaucrats will be trained on the software so they can search the database for health-related content.
“Content from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites, discussion boards, video and image sharing sites will be maintained by the Contractor and kept up-to-date in a timely manner and made available for query by Government,” the contract said.
When asked by a vendor if they are interested in storing the data for “historical analysis,” NLM said “Yes.”
The project will also track NLM’s impact on social media in comparison to its “competitors,” which they define as Google, Mayo Clinic, and WebMD.
“Demographic characteristics” of Facebook and Twitter posts will be noted “to the extent permitted by privacy regulations.” NLM said they are interested in the location, number of followers, and academic degrees held by users.
The contractor OhMyGov Inc. is partially funded by the National Science Foundation, and a member of President Obama’s “Startup America Initiative,” a public-private partnership designed to spur entrepreneurship.
“The OhMyGov Media Monitoring and Policy Analysis system is the first and only business intelligence software completely politically focused,” according to the company’s website. “It provides real-time data mining, analysis, and visual analytics to uncover patterns in message uptake and critical insights into how issues are being characterized by Congress as well as the media, public, and key stakeholders.”
Requests for comment from NLM were not returned.
You have until April 15th to file a return – and the IRS will be collecting a lot more than just taxes this year.
According to several reports, the agency will also be collecting personal information from sites like Facebook and Twitter.
It says the effort is to catch people trying to beat the system, but some say it goes too far.
Attorney Kristen Mathews warns to be careful with what you say on social media platforms.
She has concerns the government is pushing the limits of what has historically been considered private.
“There are laws that regulate the government’s ability to get a hold of things like credit card transaction history. But those laws have become more permissive in the last several years, particularly after 9-11, and so some might say those laws are no longer in line with the average expectation of privacy,” says Mathews.
The government has said it would only check a Facebook page or twitter account if there is already red flag in a tax form.
Source: Susanne Posel
Twitter has released a report confirming that the US government leads the world in requesting information on their citizens. TheTransparency Report shows the US government has made requests that are infringing on American privacy rights. Twitter states that “we’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011.”
As the US government sifts through the tweets US citizens are making and analyzing information from illegal means, there are decisions about particular citizens being made to justify the construction of an all-encompassing Big Brother network.
Cloud computing is also under surveillance as every conversation is recording and filed. While Microsoft denies this is true, the adherence to their rules and regulations explains that all your personal information is stored within Skype. In section 2 of their user contract explains: “Our primary purpose in collecting information is to provide you with a safe, smooth, efficient, and customized experience. Skype collects and uses, or has third party service providers acting on Skype’s behalf collecting and using, personal data relating to you, as permitted or necessary to . . .”
The Department of Homeland Security’s Delaware Information and Analysis Center (DIAC) “now offers a mobile app to report suspicious activities in real-time by attaching a photo, sending location information, or entering details about suspicious vehicles or persons. In addition, users can choose to make their report anonymously or can include contact information for follow-up by law enforcement.”
The Anti-Terrorism Mobile FORCE 1-2 App is designed for iPhone and Android users that create spies out of average citizens for the sake of the State. The information collected by users is funneled to a National Security Agency (NSA) Fusion Center to be disseminated with federal agencies and local law enforcement.
Using terrorism and 9/11 phone calls as a fear-mongering campaign to coerce the general public into participating in this new Stasi, the Delaware government hopes to keep its citizens “ever vigilant in the fight against terrorism and this new app is just one way for our citizens to help.”
Simultaneously, Symantec’s Norton Cybercrime Report states that cybercrimes involving smartphones are costing consumers $110 billion annually as these thieves peruse mobile devices and social networks looking for loopholes. Smartphones are sent fake bills which add to the telecommunications services and rack-up charges as well as implant viruses into devices through apps.
Infected phones infect other phones through sending of information, text messages and emails. Nameless, faceless hackers change segments of code and inject the malware into the smartphone. However, most mobile phone and telecommunications corporations still maintain that mobile applications are safe and there should be no precautions taken when downloading these apps.
The CIA-sponsored AntiSec hacker group was successful in stealing millions of ID numbers from Apple, Inc. from databases where the corporation had been storing user personal data. They then leaked this information out for the general public to see. However this action serves another purpose.
The FBI was also infiltrated by the same state-controlled hacker group wherein a laptop was “compromised and private data regarding Apple UDIDs was exposed. At this time, there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data.” The bureau’s press office later posted on its Twitter account that it “never had” the information in question and that the reports its laptop was hacked were “totally false.”
While data mining, cell phone corporations are using mobile phone habits to decipher the predictive movements of users. Scientists from the University of Brimingham in the UK have revealed that they can predict the movements of mobile phone users through tracking the network usage in real time with algorithms that forecast probabilities. This means that cell phone corporations, if using this system could predict the future whereabouts of their customers at any time of the day or night.
As our cell phone become weapons of mass surveillance, police departments across the nation are installing more CCTV cameras to better spy on citizens. In Maryland, local police have been using speed cameras at intersections to watch citizens under the guise of mitigating damages caused by car accidents.
Researchers for the Defense Department have created working prototypes of bi-static radar that can utilize WiFi to spy on citizens through walls. In tests, a one foot think brick wall was used and the monitoring radar could send back visual data to be interpreted.
WiFi signals can be extended and are available virtually everywhere which makes the capability of transmitting information easier with radio signals and laptops.
With the siphoning of information from a wireless router, surveillance software can be used as well to see through walls. A person’s whereabouts can be correctly pinpointed by using WiFi signals that bounce off objects which can decipher speed, location and direction of an individual.
Justification for this technology is surmised as: “See Through The Wall (STTW) technologies are of great interest to law enforcement and military agencies; this particular device has the UK Military of Defense exploring whether it might be used in ‘urban warfare,’ for scanning buildings. Other more benign applications might range from monitoring children to monitoring the elderly.”
These surveillance grids are being implemented to compliment the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Traning (SLATT) program that defines for police departments what an extremist is and how to “recognize and report indicators of terrorism/criminal extremism.”
The SLATT’s definition of terrorism is vague and broad. It encompasses “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” While terrorism is meant to intimidate and coerce a population into submission, the local law enforcement is employed to play an integral part in bringing intelligence to the federal agencies and “international intelligence communities” involved with hindering terrorism.
The SLATT explains that those who use cash, stay in tight-knit groups, repeatedly use the word “God”, carry video or observation equipment and have hand-drawn maps are terrorists. The document goes on to explain that any type of surveillance that is not state-sponsored is terroristic in nature and should be reported.
Susanne Posel’s website is Occupy Corporatism.
Obama’s Twitter account has 18.8 million followers — but more than half of them really don’t exist, according to reports.
A new Web tool has determined that 70% of Obama’s crowd includes “fake followers,” The New York Times reports in a story about how Twitter followers can be purchased.
“The practice has become so widespread that StatusPeople, a social media management company in London, released a Web tool last month called the Fake Follower Check that it says can ascertain how many fake followers you and your friends have,” the Times reports.
“Fake accounts tend to follow a lot of people but have few followers,” said Rob Waller, a founder of StatusPeople. “We then combine that with a few other metrics to confirm the account is fake.”
Notes the Times:
If accurate, the number of fake followers out there is surprising. According to the StatusPeople tool, 71 percent of Lady Gaga’s nearly 29 million followers are “fake” or “inactive.” So are 70 percent of President Obama’s nearly 19 million followers.
Republican opponent Mitt Romney has far fewer Twitter followers — not quite 900,000 — but it’s a good bet that some of them are fake as well.
Both campaigns have denied buying Twitter followers.
Source: DAVID STREITFELD and KEVIN J. O’BRIEN
After months of negotiation, Johannes Caspar, a German data protection official, forced Google to show him exactly what its Street View cars had been collecting from potentially millions of his fellow citizens. Snippets of e-mails, photographs, passwords, chat messages, postings on Web sites and social networks — all sorts of private Internet communications — were casually scooped up as the specially equipped cars photographed the world’s streets.
“It was one of the biggest violations of data protection laws that we had ever seen,” Mr. Caspar recently recalled about that long-sought viewing in late 2010. “We were very angry.”
Google might be one of the coolest and smartest companies of this or any era, but it also upsets a lot of people — competitors who argue it wields its tremendous weight unfairly, officials like Mr. Caspar who says it ignores local laws, privacy advocates who think it takes too much from its users. Just this week, European antitrust regulators gave the company an ultimatum to change its search business or face legal consequences. American regulators may not be far behind.
The high-stakes antitrust assault, which will play out this summer behind closed doors in Brussels, might be the beginning of a tough time for Google. A similar United States case in the 1990s heralded the comeuppance of Microsoft, the most fearsome tech company of its day.
But never count Google out. It is superb at getting out of trouble. Just ask Mr. Caspar or any of his counterparts around the world who tried to hold Google accountable for what one of them, the Australian communication minister Stephen Conroy, called “probably the single greatest breach in the history of privacy.” The secret Street View data collection led to inquiries in at least a dozen countries, including four in the United States alone. But Google has yet to give a complete explanation of why the data was collected and who at the company knew about it. No regulator in the United States has ever seen the information that Google’s cars gathered from American citizens.
The tale of how Google escaped a full accounting for Street View illustrates not only how technology companies have outstripped the regulators, but also their complicated relationship with their adoring customers.
Companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple supply new ways of communication, learning and entertainment, high-tech wizardry for the masses. They have custody of the raw material of hundreds of millions of lives — the intimate e-mails, the revealing photographs, searches for help or love or escape.
People willingly, at times eagerly, surrender this information. But there is a price: the loss of control, or even knowledge, of where that personal information is going and how it is being reshaped into an online identity that may resemble the real you or may not. Privacy laws and wiretapping statutes are of little guidance, because they have not kept pace with the lightning speed of technological progress.
Michael Copps, who last year ended a 10-year term as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, said regulators were overwhelmed. “The industry has gotten more powerful, the technology has gotten more pervasive and it’s getting to the point where we can’t do too much about it,” he said.
Although Google thrives on information, it is closemouthed about itself, as the Street View episode shows. When German regulators forced the company to admit that the cars were sweeping up unencrypted Internet data from wireless networks, the company blamed a programming mistake where an engineer’s experimental software was accidentally included in Street View. It stressed that the data was never intended for any Google products.
The F.C.C. did not see it Google’s way, saying last month the engineer “intended to collect, store and review” the data “for possible use in other Google products.” It also said the engineer shared his software code and a “design document” with other members of the Street View team. The data collection may have been misguided, the agency said, but was not accidental.
Although the agency said it could find no violation of American law, it also said the inquiry was inconclusive, because the engineer cited his Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. It tagged Google with a $25,000 fine for obstructing the investigation.
Google, which has repeatedly said it wants to put the episode behind it, declined to answer questions for this article.
“We don’t have much choice but to trust Google,” said Christian Sandvig, a researcher in communications technology and public policy at the University of Illinois. “We rely on them for everything.”
That reliance has built an impressive company — and a self-assurance that can be indistinguishable from arrogance. “Google doesn’t seem to think it ever will be held accountable,” Mr. Sandvig said. “And to date it hasn’t been.”
When Street View was introduced in 2007, it elicited immediate objections in Europe, where privacy laws are tough. The Nazis used government data to systematically pursue Jews and other unwanted groups. The East German secret police, the Stasi, similarly controlled data to monitor perceived enemies.
Source: DANIEL MILLER UK Daily Mail
The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.
The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.
Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.
The words are included in the department’s 2011 ‘Analyst’s Desktop Binder‘ used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify ‘media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities’.
Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit which revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organisations for comments that ‘reflect adversely’ on the government.
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