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Web Site Infiltration: Why Do They Do It?

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posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 04:19 PM
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It’s not unusual for political operatives to use other peole’s web sites as propaganda platforms during an election. The benefits may not seem obvious but they are tangible. What seems like a lot of work for very little benefit is actually a modern art form with roots in old school Machiavellian palace intrigues.

You can think of this as Information Warfare. The Cold War term for this tactic was “disinformation.” You can think of it as COINTELPRO on a smaller scale. Infiltration has offensive and defensive purposes. In its passive form, it’s a means of gathering information. In its more aggressive form, it’s a means to and which includes spreading rumors and suppositions which turn out to be wrong or inconclusive.

Information Gathering

Campaign operative can lurk on dozens or event hundreds of web sites to sample the opinions of regular posters. They routinely report on the results of polls, essay contests, and debates. They’ll be on the lookout for well written pieces that are for and against their product, candidate, or cause. You can think of this as more than data mining. It can be considered a form of unannounced surveillance, or potentially a theft of intellectual property.

Today’s operatives also have access to sophisticated software bot programs, which can be used to search web sites for key words. In your own small scale way, you can do this with your favorite search engine. It is widely believed that the most hard core forms of dta mining are carried out by bot programs that sift millions of gigabytes every day. It’s worth noting that the internet is still a wild and unregulated place. Every word that you put out there can be found nad used by somebody. That includes this essay.


Disinformation

This is what it sounds like. Campaign operatives routinely pose as “normal posters” to speculate about a product, candidate, or cause. In many cases, they try to keep their speculations civil and intellectual. In toehr cases, they do not. Some times, the chargesthey make will have some grain of truth to them. In other cases, they will not. These tactics are intended to achieve three goals.

Sew dissent

Disinformation can be powerful enough to break up loyal groups. It can also “spark” a well organized opposition.

Discredit

Provoking the members of a web site in to “validating” claims which later turn out to be false can ruin the web site’s “brand.” Once embarrassed or “proven” to be unreliable as a source of information, the site’s membership is never again capable of speaking out on any issue, subject, or candidate, without being trashed by the media.

Theft of Credibility

Campaign operatives routinely post material on web sites, then link back to it on others. Screen names and profiles will always be sufficiently different to avoid suspicion. It’s not unusual for these perators to make the mistake of using the same OP address for most of their “work.’ Citing recently posted material on secondary web sites gives the impression of credibility. Especially if the web sites being used are known as brand leaders for the issues or topics under consideration.

These are the basics. the actual WHY of the thing is always going to be open to hot and heavy debate. I have deliberately limited my discussion of this matter to political factors. In later posts, we can talk about the other facets of this tactic.




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