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Gov't Admits Spying on Blogs and Forums

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posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:29 PM
The recent uproar over the NYC "flyover" prompted a military call for review of internet cites to keep track of political "fallout."

As the Pentagon warns of the security risks posed by social networking sites, newly released government documents show the military also uses these Internet tools to monitor and react to coverage of high-profile events.

The Air Force tracked the instant messaging service Twitter, video carrier YouTube and various blogs to assess the huge public backlash to the Air Force One flyover of the Statue of Liberty this spring, according to the documents.

And while the attempts at damage control failed - "No positive spin is possible," one PowerPoint chart reads - the episode opens a window into the tactics for operating in a boundless digital news cycle.

But wait, it gets worse!

According to the Air Force documents released through the Freedom of Information Act, a unit called the Combat Information Cell at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida monitored the public fallout from the April 27 flight and offered recommendations for dealing with the fast-breaking story.

Formed two years ago, the cell is made up of as many as nine people who analyze piles of data culled from the Internet and other sources to determine whether the Air Force's message is being heard.

"Damage control requires timely counter-information," but the opportunity for that had passed, the assessment said. The cell recommended acknowledging the mistake and ensuring it didn't happen again.


The other dominant news story at the time was public concern over the spread of swine flu. According to the documents, the same Air Force cell suggested there may be an opportunity to turn the tide. "Government involvement in this incident could be used to frame expected handling of H1N1 outbreak," one of the PowerPoint charts reads.

A Utah Air National Guard unit, the 101st Information Warfare Flight in Salt Lake City, was also monitoring the social sites. "To say that this event is being beaten like a dead horse is an understatement," reads an April 28 e-mail from the unit to other Air Force offices. "Has really taken off in Web. 2.0."

John Verdi of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington said gray zones can emerge while monitoring social networking sites because viewing and participating is based on trust.

"Lots of times individuals upload private or sensitive information that they expect to share with their friends or family and not the whole Internet world," Verdi said. "It would certainly be a major problem if the government were accessing that information under false pretenses."

Paul Bove, an Air Force digital media strategist, said service personnel are instructed not to do that. Nor are they to use aliases or represent a position that's beyond the scope of what they do.

Although military officials deny "authorizing" aliases and intervention in monitored sites, it appears that it goes on anyway, or under different protocol.

The issue of aliases is at the heart of a complaint stemming for the Army Corps of Engineers' performance in New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina.

On Tuesday, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., asked the Pentagon inspector general to examine allegations that Corps employees posed as ordinary citizens and posted comments on a New Orleans web site defending the organization from criticism following the disaster.

Jon Donley, former editor of, said in a June 9 affidavit that there were as many as 20 registered users who developed a pattern of not only defending the Corps, but at times being "overtly abusive" to any critics. He said he was able to trace their posts to a Corps Internet address.

Ken Holder, a spokesman for Corps' New Orleans District, said it will cooperate with any investigation.

So, call us paranoid or gullible if you will. That doesn't change the fact the Big Brother is watching and listening.

1st Air Force

And talking, too.

Deny ignorance.


posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:45 PM
Oh no.

People with internet connections READ!

Some of them happen to be in the government!

If you want anonymity, write on the bathroom stall door. Anything else, you're likely writing or saying it so that you can share it. If its secret, don't share it.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:51 PM
I think it should be very worrying that a gov't would evoke memories of 9/11 in New York so it can gauge people's reactions on social networks? Sounds like something the Joker would do, maybe those posters are a lot more accurate than what people think. Obama may not have personally signed off on it, but as President the buck stops with him and as others held Bush responsible for everything under the sun, then the same standard should apply to him.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 03:56 PM
I don't find this troubling at all.

Anyone who doesn't realize that if you put something out in public forums that someone might read and analyze it is mentally challenged.

I think it is good that government actually cares what the people are thinking....for once.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 04:31 PM
Everyone has seen that program " To Catch a Predator" where law enforcement lures pedophiles by using supposed underage girls as bait by hanging around online chatrooms/forums to arrange a rendezvous with the said underage 'victim'.
Only to be arrested on TV .... how embarrassing. I can't beileve that these guys still fall for it especially after running for years now on nationwide network television.

But all in all , it paints a very clear picture that the Govt. is definitely amongst us online.
Thats why I definitely believe in the US Govt. CIA sponsored DIS-INFORMATION...for it has been used for years as far as the UFO conspiracy is concerned. They made people ashamed/embarrassed to mention what they'd witnessed to keep the sheeple silenced.

Don't forget that ... Big Brother IS Watching YOU !

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 04:56 PM
This topic of internet spying by Governments reminds me of the old saying, "The Devils greatest trick is convincing the world that he doesn't exist."

The Internet, being a system created and fine tuned by the military decades before the technology was released to the public, seems (at least to me) would be an ideal way to get everyone hooked in and dependent on the internet for communication that could be cataloged for future review. The truth probably is that we have never had any real privacy on the web since it's first days of public use. World Wide Wiretap indeed.

It is too easy to see how social networking sites including "Dating" sites are treasure troves for intelligence agencies. It amazes me how many people put such intimate details about themselves online in imaginary and unfounded confidence.

To those who would say: "Then why do they not go after the many crimes that people admit to on the web before they commit them?" My answer is twofold; Manpower, and the fact that the life of a slave means very little to the people who have access to the technology. God forbid that they start sending robots at the request of a computer algorithm.

Another reason is that they do not want to kill the cockroaches that would lead them to the nest. This is a tactic often used to find renegade (outside of Government control) drug dealers.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 05:04 PM
How do you spy on a public website?
just wondering.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 05:11 PM

Originally posted by jprophet420
How do you spy on a public website?
just wondering.

Well for starters, do you have members? Do they have passwords?

Are they war-gaming? Do you need info to feed Bot programs?

Gotta think outside the box on this one. I am sure you could think of a couple more.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 05:18 PM
reply to post by daeoeste

If they hacked the accounts that is one thing, but clearly from the article they observed information made public by members. I will immediately change sides if anyone presents information that they broke into peoples accounts.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 06:07 PM
reply to post by jprophet420

Exactly. You are posting information out into the public domain. It is not spying if they read what you post at all. Spying means they are looking at things you do not put out in the public domain. Private phone calls, emails and things of that nature. That is spying.

Doesn't bother me if they read what I post on here. I'm glad they read the sites, it's people who read the stuff in the end, maybe they will learn something.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 08:05 PM
Yea, well its a free world and we are gonna keep it that way..
Its easy to spot them, I mean there responses gleem of Disinfo
-- Im glad the rules were changed this going for the Jugular was
getting old.. having to teach every single thread was getting tiresome.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 08:34 PM
Star, and flag for an excellent find.

Unfortunately the debunker's will always fall in line, and deny the truth.

I appreciate it.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 08:42 PM
Its my impression that government plants use the same aggressive techniques to try and control people on the internet as they do in person in the form of heavy handed police and military actions.

Both places they ride roughshod over people to scare and intimidate. When they do it online; pretending to be ordinary Joe's, its a little like the big bad wolf dressing up like Grandma!
It just doesn't come off right.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 08:54 PM
There are many facets to "spying" and espionage in general that some people apparently may not have the ability to deduce. You can do much with what seems like mundane information to the uninitiated.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 09:03 PM

Originally posted by Kords21
Obama may not have personally signed off on it, but as President the buck stops with him and as others held Bush responsible for everything under the sun, then the same standard should apply to him.

Does it really matter who's in charge?

The main thing, as I see it, is the unvarnished admission that the gov't. doesn't just listen in, but that it also PARTICIPATES!

Here's the Disinformation" smoking gun -- it is no longer open to argument. We've all suspected it and many contended to have indirect proof. Now, it's not even being kept covert.

What's next, gov't. blogs posing as benign forums, but trolling for "subversives?"

Next question: how do you detect and counter it?


posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 09:06 PM

Originally posted by RRconservative
Anyone who doesn't realize that if you put something out in public forums that someone might read and analyze it is mentally challenged.

I think it is good that government actually cares what the people are thinking....for once.

It's not the 'listening' and reading that should trouble anyone, as you rightly point out.

There is a problem when the gov't. poses as something or someone else just to "smoke out" dissenters, gain info or covertly influence opinion.

deny ignorance


posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 09:25 PM
Originally posted by jprophet420

How do you spy on a public website?
just wondering.

Reply to post by daoeste.
Reply to post by jprophet420.
Reply to post by badmedia.
Reply to post by BornPatriot.

Your subtle or not so subtle points well taken.

"Spying" was the wrong term, but it more accurately reflected the tenor of the linked articles.

The real threat, finally acknowledged by government authorities, is their covert effort to garner confidence, gather information and secretly influence public forums.

By posing and using aliases, the government admits to violating ToCs of many forums, which expect honesty and encourage discourse without fear of repercussions (other than members' criticism).

This is potentially akin to outright entrapment under certain circumstances. Can't you see the potential, or are you denying it through misdirection and disinformation?

It's one thing to post something just to see the response. It's another altogether to invite responses and encourage the revelation of information, sources and opinions you would not otherwise have shared.

Think hard about what and where you post. Big Brother IS asking you for it, not just reading.


[edit on 10-8-2009 by jdub297]

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 09:28 PM
The internet is by definition an unsecured medium; if you don't want something read, don't put it on the net, end of story. Just because you have a password on your hotmail account and have the expectation of privacy doesn't mean that has any bearing on reality. If the net was private and secure, it wouldn't function. The whole TCP/IP protocol stack is built to be flexible and easily manipulated.

If you want to share information between a closed group, build you own WAN outside of the internet. Maybe it's not right for the government to be phishing for data but when you log on to the net, no one ever promised you privacy, you assumed it as a right where none exists.

It's like putting a giant billboard up in your front lawn and expecting that no one look at it except you because its on your lawn. You could put up a fence thats taller than your billboard, in theory, but right now that's not an option.

I'm not arguing in favour of government snooping, I'm arguing in favour of everyone understanding how it is and adjusting their actions according to the reality of the situation.

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 09:39 PM
reply to post by ZombieOctopus

They are openly posing and using aliases. That's a little more than "spying." Sorry for the poor wording.

Here's proof that they are acting out on what they read:

"EMail from Whitehouse"

posted on Aug, 10 2009 @ 09:47 PM
reply to post by jdub297

Well I mean that's not a good thing.. but on the other hand, how often do you really base your personal views upon how someone told you to think on a message board?

I dunno I guess I just don't find it all that threatening.. maybe if I were extremely gullible and my views were so malleable that anyone could come along and put me 180 degrees of what I really believe, just like that. Then maybe I'd be concerned...

Isn't the same true with real life? You're bombarded with advertising from the moment you leave your home to when you return. All of which are specifically aimed at influencing your judgment and opinion but how many people see a billboard for PETA and convert to vegan on the spot? I think people have stronger wills and opinions than you give credit.

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