New Snowden Docs: British Spies 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”

More Evidence of Web Manipulation

We’ve noted for years that the Pentagon and spy agencies manipulate the Internet – including social media – in order to promote false propaganda and to stifle dissenting information.

We’ve also discussed some of the methods used to game popularity on social media sites.

A new report from the Intercept adds to our understanding of these tactics:

The secretive British spy agency 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.

The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.


The “tools” have been assigned boastful code names. They include invasive methods for online surveillance, as well as some of the very techniques that the U.S. and U.K. have harshly prosecuted young online activists for employing, including “distributed denial of service” attacks and “call bombing.” But they also describe previously unknown tactics for manipulating and distorting online political discourse and disseminating state propaganda, as well as the apparent ability to actively monitor Skype users in real-time—raising further questions about the extent of Microsoft’s cooperation with spy agencies or potential vulnerabilities in its Skype’s encryption. Here’s a list of how JTRIG describes its capabilities:

• “Change outcome of online polls” (UNDERPASS)

• “Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign” (BADGER) and “mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign” (WARPARTH)

• “Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal.” (SILVERLORD)

• “Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.” (MINIATURE HERO)

• “Find private photographs of targets on Facebook” (SPRING BISHOP)

• “A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer” (ANGRY PIRATE)

• “Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website” (GATEWAY) and “ability to inflate page views on websites” (SLIPSTREAM)

• “Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)” (GESTATOR)

• “Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers” (PREDATORS FACE) and “Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG” (ROLLING THUNDER)

• “A suite of tools for monitoring target use of the UK auction site eBay (” (ELATE)

• “Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity” (CHANGELING)

• “For connecting two target phone together in a call” (IMPERIAL BARGE)

NSA engages in the same types of dirty tricks.

We’re not very confident that the spies are only going after actual bad guys and promoting the messages of the good guys, given that:

  • Any criticism of government policies is considered “extremist” and potential terrorism

Postscript: Two readers point out chilling potential implications of such manipulation for framing or blackmailing people. One reader worries:


They can send email using your address.  Or insert it on your computer.

Like kiddie porn, if they really want you dead.

Another reader argues:

“For connecting two target phone together in a call” (IMPERIAL BARGE)

In other words, producing phony phone logs which can then be used in a “court of law” against the target(s).  So, why WERE you talking to those Jihadis?

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  • Goldcoaster

    Ah, I made that Kiddie Porn comment at Zero Hedge.
    How did it get over here?


    Mi5, mi6,fbi,cia,mossad,surete,germany ss, all work together for common goal. World inhumane domination and depopulation.

  • wgalison

    So they only surveil people who communicate with known terrorists, but if they want to surveil you, they can artificially connect you with known terrorists, which makes you fair game…. brilliant.

  • Brabantian

    Speaking of internet manipulation … dis-info game is so thorough, that GW and many others have not realised ‘Edward Snowden’ is blatantly, clearly a CIA fraud, as detailed in the Moscow report on him … and that by pumping Snowden, you are endangering lives of real dissidents who may be killed after being duped into contacting the lying CIA-tied ‘Snowden journalists’.

    How is it that Snowden’s first recipient for his ‘stolen NSA documents’, was Dick Cheney’s CIA-tied friend and biographer at the CIA-tied Washington Post, anti-9-11-truth Bart Gellman, a man who was never brave about anything, and who was mentored by CIA ‘fake brave journalists’ from 40 years ago? Who except a CIA ‘fake dissident’ and liar, would ‘trust’ Dick Cheney’s pal like this?

    Why is it that EVERYONE in the Snowden-Assange gang, their journalists and lawyers, is hostile and even insulting to truth about 11 Sep 2001?

    In the report in Moscow at Russia’s SVR and FSB security agencies, it is clear Snowden is a fake who never ‘stole’ any documents – ‘Russia gov FSB SVR report, Snowden Greenwald are CIA frauds pt1’

    How is it that Snowden’s US lawyer, Plato Cacheris, has been involved in CIA projects for over 40 years … and is ‘negotiating to bring Snowden home’?

    How is it that Snowden’s 2nd and now ‘main’ journalist, is Glenn Greenwald … Greenwald who is an ex-pornographer like Jimmy Wales ‘founder’ of the CIA’s Wikipedia … who has now worked for 3 billionaire families, richest in USA (Gates) richest in world (Rothschilds) and now CIA-tied Omidyar … Greenwald who also was never ‘brave’ about anything … who now has 50 million dollars to do ‘great brave journalism’ and yet produces almost zero … ?

    How is it that Snowden is tied to America’s leading CIA-advisor for 40 years, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Snowden working with Zbig’s son Ian, and being promoted by his media daughter Mika?

    How is that Snowden’s ‘brave media’ – NY Times, WashPost, UK Guardian – are all known as CIA ‘Operation Mockingbird’ media, who ignore most real dissidents, with the NY Times & UK Guardian having criminal charges registered against them in Europe for helping the CIA to defame EU citizens, and supporting EU internet censorship by CIA-Google?

    How is it that Snowden doesn’t even seem to know what he ‘stole’, deferring it to his fake ‘brave journalists’? How is it that Snowden spends his spare time giving oily praise for CIA-tied media liars, and undermining 11 Sep 01 truth?

    Purpose of ‘Operation Fake Dissident Snowden? – To terrorise the world … to pump up CIA-tied mainstream media like NY Times & Guardian & WashPost … to help destroy 9-11 truth … and likely also to entrap real whistleblowers, who get turned over to US gov after contacting Greenwald or the Guardian etc

  • Years ago, I noticed the view counts on youtube were rigged. I noticed because I have a subscription feed for new videos from certain channels. And I noticed that the majority of them in my feed had exactly “301” view counts, and I knew that wasn’t possible. In fact, they all had 301 thru around 309. Exactly. All of them. I was thinking the “3” means something and the “01” thru “09” mean something. I also noticed a plethora of views of weird exact counts like exactly 69,000 views and things like that. Then I googled “301 views youtube” and realized a lot of other people noticed this, too.

    • Dale Gribble

      supposedly 301 has something to do with verifying actual visits and not fluffled visits. After a few hours – days it catches up the actual view count.

  • I only found washingtonsblog today and wish I had known of your existence years ago. I am a frequent commenter at Jim Kunstler’s Blog which is heavily infested with sock puppets. A year and a half ago I learned what was going on at the blog for certain by watching a ‘Status Counter’ which showed traffic to Kunstler’s site. I saw that the Department of Defence Network was dominating his site using sock puppets.

    I then published a time stamp which documented the DoD interference on Kunstler’s blog that coincided with the most annoying puppet in a comment. For finding out that our government is secretly disrupting discussion at Kunstler’s site I then became a target and have been severely harassed.