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Big Tech as Guardian of US Super Power

by Oui Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 02:42:25 PM EST

h/t Cat on two occasions her coverage of Stuxnet and Pentagon subversive global disinformation campaign

Researchers caught a pro-US campaign spreading propaganda on social media

Surprise, surprise, we're meddling right back

While countries like Russia and China have been making headlines for years with their disinformation and propaganda campaigns on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it turns out that the US and other Western countries may have been playing the same game. A recent report (pdf) from social network analysis firm Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory has uncovered a series of operations, some covert and some less so, that aimed to "promote pro-Western narratives" in countries like Russia, China, Afghanistan, and Iran (via Gizmodo).

According to the report, Twitter and Meta removed a group of accounts from their platforms earlier this month, citing their platform manipulation and coordinated inauthentic behavior rules. Analyzing the accounts' activity, researchers found that the accounts have been carrying out campaigns to criticize or support foreign governments (sometimes the same governments, in what feels like an attempt to sow division) and offer takes on culture and politics for years. The report says this was sometimes done by sharing links to news sites backed by the US government and military.

    "The sock puppet accounts were kind of funny to look at because we are so used to analyzing pro-Kremlin sock puppets, so it was weird to see accounts pushing the opposite narrative," she said. "The narratives [in pro-Kremlin influence ops] are often like 'the Americans are killing civilians in Syria' but here the narrative was 'Russia is killing civilians in Syria.' It was the same narrative but just switching the proper nouns around."

As I have so often written, the accusations mirrors their own -US/UK- acts of horror and terror #Iraq #Libys #Syria #Ukraine

AI Build In The Mirror of Mensch

Meta, Twitter took down accounts engaging in pro-U.S. covert influence campaigns | The Record - Aug. 24, 2022 |

Meta and Twitter have taken down accounts in recent weeks connected to a years-long, pro-Western covert influence network originating in the U.S. that targeted the Middle East and Central Asia, according to a new report from the Stanford Internet Observatory and data analysis firm Graphika: UNHEARD VOICE -- Evaluating five years of pro-Western covert influence operations.  

The social media firms determined in July and August that the accounts engaged in coordinated inauthentic or spam behavior that violated their policies, then shared data about the accounts with the researchers. The Stanford and Graphika report tracks networks of online activity from that data across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and five other online platforms.

Rather than one single campaign, the data provided by the companies showed a series of overlapping efforts that used deceptive tactics, including computer generated profile images and fake news outlets, to promote an agenda aligned with Western policy priorities and opposing Iran, China and Russia.

"The accounts heavily criticized Russia in particular for the deaths of innocent civilians and other atrocities its soldiers committed in pursuit of the Kremlin's `imperial ambitions' following its invasion of Ukraine in February this year," according to the report.

"To promote this and other narratives, the accounts sometimes shared news articles from U.S. government-funded media outlets, such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, and links to websites sponsored by the U.S. military," researchers added.

Data shared by Meta identified the accounts as originating in the U.S., and Twitter said the "presumptive country of origin" of accounts was Great Britain and the U.S., although neither attributed the campaign to a specific actor, according to the report.

Twitter shared nearly 300,000 tweets from 146 accounts sent between March 2012 and February 2022 with the researchers, who found the data could be divided into two categories: those associated with a known U.S. influence operation called the Trans-Regional Web Initiative, and others -- which the report focused on -- that represented a "series of covert campaigns of unclear origin." There were 74 Twitter accounts associated with the latter group, according to Stanford Internet Observatory research scholar Shelby Grossman.

    During the Cold War, the State Department did a great deal of work on what it calls public diplomacy, i.e. creating cultural, political and news material to get other countries to understand (or better yet, like) the United States and its policies. Since 9/11, the U.S. military has also made a big push into this area as well under the framework of "strategic communication." Special Operations Command in particular has been active, and is now looking for a contractor to develop websites to "influence foreign audiences per Government-approved Concepts of Operations (CONOPs), conceptual approaches and previously approved prototypes."

    The Trans-Regional Web Initiative will include six websites in various languages, according to the solicitation, and the contractor will be responsible for establishing a "network of native/indigenous content contributors with backgrounds in politics, academics, security, culture, entertainment, and other aspects of the GWOT, which appeal to identified foreign target audiences."

Those covert campaigns were also present in data from Meta, which included 26 Instagram accounts as well as 39 Facebook profiles, 16 pages and two groups active between 2017 and July 2022, according to the research.  

Propagandastan | Foreign Policy - 22 Nov 2011 |

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - When people read a news website, they don't usually imagine that it is being run by a major producer of fighter jets and smart bombs. But when the Pentagon has its own vision of America's foreign policy, and the funds to promote it, it can put a $23 billion defense contractor in a unique position to report on the war on terror.

Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight "influence websites" funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) [taken down by DoD in 2014 - Oui] and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant commands, including U.S. Central Command. In its coverage of Uzbekistan, a repressive dictatorship increasingly important to U.S. military goals in Afghanistan, a TRWI website called Central Asia Online has shown a disturbing tendency to downplay the autocracy's rights abuses and uncritically promote its claims of terrorist threats.

Gas-rich Uzbekistan, the most populous of the formerly Soviet Central Asian republics, has been ruled since before independence in 1991 by strongman President Islam Karimov, who is regularly condemned in the West for running one of the world's most repressive and corrupt regimes. Freedom House gives Uzbekistan the lowest possible score in its Freedom in the World report, while watchdog groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have reported on widespread torture and forced child labor.

Democracies and the Power of Propaganda

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who has served as adviser to three UN Secretaries-General and currently serves as an advocate of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for Secretary-General António Guterres, has written a powerful condemnation of American foreign policy in an article entitled The West's False Narrative About Russia and China (othernews.info, 22 August 2022).

He begins:

    The relentless Western narrative that the West is noble while Russia and China are evil is simple-minded and extraordinarily dangerous.

    It is an attempt to manipulate public opinion, not to deal with very real and pressing diplomacy.

Before proceeding with the details of his argument, it is worthwhile to focus in on his accusation of American manipulation of public opinion, in light of astonishing new revelations about a five-year American "influence" campaign reported by both Al Jazeera and the Washington Post.

The Al Jazeera article, Meta, Twitter bust `deceptive' pro-US influence campaign: report (Aljazeera.com, 25 August 2022),

includes the sub-head: Fake accounts promoted pro-Western narratives while trying to discredit China, Russia and Iran, researchers say.

Al Jazeera notes:

    The tactics outlined in the report resemble many of the same strategies that US officials have accused Russia and China of using to sow divisions and discord in their country.

The paywalled Washington Post account of the report, by Naomi Nix, published on 24 August 2022 states that Accounts promoting U.S. government messages violated the platforms' rules against coordinated inauthentic behavior.

Nix also noted:

    This crackdown [by Facebook and Twitter] is the rare instance in which a U.S.-sponsored campaign targeting foreign audiences was found to violate the companies' rules.

This lax approach stands in sharp contrast to actions taken against Russia since its invasion of Ukraine, with social media apps Facebook, Instagram and YouTube having banned Russian state media accounts, restricted advertising and bolstered their fact-checking operations during the war.

Back to Jeffrey Sachs and the false western security narrative

But the point being made by Jeffrey Sachs is that the false western security narrative goes far beyond specific influence campaigns on social media and, indeed, is embedded in US national security strategy. He writes:

    The core US idea is that China and Russia are implacable foes that are "attempting to erode American security and prosperity."

    These countries are, according to the US, "determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence."

Earlier writings on topic ...

UK propaganda was published under the misnomer "Statecraft".

Counterinsurgency Cyberwarfare NATO vs. Russia - Part 3 | January 2018 |

War, Militarisation and British Democracy | By Paul Dixon |

'Progressives' Drinking Neocon Kool-Aid


On Dutch evening news an Army general explained it was Putin and Russia behind the attack to block gas delivery to Germany ... sounds logical, no?

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 05:18:40 PM EST

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 05:20:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
alias Stuxnet
is not contained even today, according to anonymous sources familiar with its internat'l, inter-agencies coordinated dev as well as Richard Clark and Michael Hayden background commentary. It's a feature, not a bug, to be proud of.

Symantech Research Labs among other ISVs received binary samples from multiple sources within their client networks—worldwide. Interviews with "cybersecurity" vendors recall decoding line by line: Immediate consensus attribute-free, self-executing routines confirmed state-sponsored dev. A month in, aside from counterfeit MSFT digital certificate traced to Taiwan, finding Siemens OS fragments and PLC hardware IDs in the code. Uncertain how to relate the significance of these keys, they resorted to "geopolitical news" reconnaisance to trace checksum operators to anamalous control system events anywhere that preceded the Iran reactor crash. Guess what? Multiple explosions of gas pipelines transiting Iran.

Now, I ask you. Is it any wonder Gazprom did not accept "refurbished" Nord Stream 1 turbines from Canada? Is it any wonder US Treasury, last Friday, licensed Starlink "internet" satellite service for "social media" users in Iran? Is gov.in now pushes for home-grown navigation system any wonder?

Malware infection of industrial control systems kills people.

by Cat on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 06:59:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on September 28, 2022
The Paper: Yesterday, China's National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center released a new investigation report on the cyber attacks by the US National Security Agency (NSA). The report detailed how the NSA's Office of Tailored Access Operation (TAO) controls key infrastructure facilities in China and infiltrates into China's Northwestern Polytechnical University's internal network by using servers in countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark to host cyber weapons through stepping-stone attack via Japan, Germany, the ROK and other countries. This enabled the TAO [not that one, the other one] to steal sensitive data including user names and passwords, identification verification data, system logs, access information, files and documents, and network configuration, and information of people with sensitive identities. The US also secretly controls the telecom carriers < wipes tears > of at least 80 countries and conducts indiscriminate wiretapping on global telecom users. Do you have any comment?
Zero Days (2016) featured eNTIty
Wang Wenbin: This is the third investigation report issued by the relevant Chinese institution this month on the US National Security Agency's malicious cyber attack on China's Northwestern Polytechnical University. It has revealed more evidence of massive cyber attacks by the US security agency against China. 

China has in recent weeks demanded explanation from the US and asked it to immediately stop illegal action through various channels. So far, however, the US has been silent. The US could not have been more bombastic and motivated when propagating the lies about "Chinese hackers", yet it has deliberately chosen to be blind and mute in the face of the solid evidence collected by the Chinese institution. What exactly is the US hiding from the world? ...

Besides "dual use" biolabs?
by Cat on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 03:16:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
STUXNET US-Israel Cooperation Cyber Warfare on Iran | @BooMan by Oui on May 31, 2011 |

F-secure Q&A analysis of stuxnet computer worm effects Siemens Process Controllers

Apparently the stuxnet worm did most harm in the ultra-centrifuges plant at Natanz in Iran.

(New York Times) - In early 2008 the German company Siemens cooperated with one of the United States' premier national laboratories, in Idaho, to identify the vulnerabilities of computer controllers that the company sells to operate industrial machinery around the world -- and that American intelligence agencies have identified as key equipment in Iran's enrichment facilities.

Siemens says that program was part of routine efforts to secure its products against cyberattacks. Nonetheless, it gave the Idaho National Laboratory -- which is part of the Energy Department, responsible for America's nuclear arms -- the chance to identify well-hidden holes in the Siemens systems that were exploited the next year by Stuxnet.

SIEMENS Automation Conference 2008
Control System Security Assessments (pdf)

Presenters: Marty Edwards! Idaho National Laboratory
Todd Stauffer, Siemens

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 08:13:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Cat on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 03:17:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BALTOPS 22: U.S. Navy continues to use the exercise as an opportunity to test emerging technology

In support of BALTOPS, U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet partnered with U.S. Navy research and warfare centers to bring the latest advancements in Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) mine hunting technology to the Baltic Sea to demonstrate the vehicle's effectiveness in operational scenarios.

Experimentation was conducted off the coast of Bornholm, Denmark, with participants from Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Newport, and Mine Warfare Readiness and Effectiveness Measuring (MIREM) -- all under the direction of U.S. Sixth Fleet Task Force 68.

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 05:22:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 05:24:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 09:27:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

War across the continent - Enduring Freedom

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 07:49:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frederiksen: Gasläckagen inte en olycka | Aftanbladet |

"Frederiksen: The gas leak was not an accident"

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says that "deliberate actions" caused the gas leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2. - It is the authorities' clear assessment that these are deliberate actions, she says.

It is our clear assessment that the incidents cannot have been caused by accidents, but by explosions, says Dan Jørgensen, Denmark's Minister for Climate, Energy and Supply.

  • The German theory: Deliberate attack on Nord Stream 1 and 2
  • Denmark worries about "really big hole" in Nord Stream
  • The armed forces link gas leaks to Russia's mobilization
  • Denmark, Germany and Poland warn of 'sabotage' after Nord Stream leaks | FT |

    'Sapere aude'

    by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 07:12:00 PM EST

    Leaders from Poland, Norway and Denmark have attended a ceremony to mark the opening of the new Baltic Pipe, a key stage in the drive to wean Poland and Europe off Russian gas.

    The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Norwegian shelf via Denmark and through the Baltic Sea to Poland. It is the centrepiece of a Polish strategy to diversify away from Russia that began years before Moscow's February invasion of Ukraine triggered a global energy crisis.

    Poland's post-Gazprom strategy hinges on Baltic Pipe | Intelligence News |

    'Sapere aude'

    by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 07:15:03 PM EST

    'Sapere aude'
    by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 07:23:02 PM EST
    Actually, the price in Italy just collapsed, and they are exporting the surplus to other countries in Europe.
    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 12:53:16 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    What's the re-export margin?
    by Cat on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 01:29:16 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Tutto ciò spiega l'altro fenomeno segnalato dagli addetti ai lavori. E confermato dai dati di Snam, il gestore della rete nazionale del gas. Ieri, sono arrivati circa 25 milioni di metri cubi di gas in Italia al punto di ingresso del Tarvisio, dove arriva la materia prima fornita da Gazprom. Di questi, 18 milioni sono stati esportati. Un dato che si conferma anche questa mattina: sono circa 15 i milioni arrivati e solo 3 sono rimasto in Italia. Ecco spiegato - come ha segnalato il sito specializzato Staffetta quotidiana - perché c'era stato un allarme (poi rientrato, ovviamente) di un netto calo delle importazioni dalla Russia).
    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 01:37:25 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Thanks. I can't get past the paywall.
    Is there info on price/mcm exported?
    by Cat on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 02:03:23 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I posted a link without the paywall, but it doesn't work anymore. Search on Google for the title, and you may get past it.
    by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 03:54:16 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    This is the lede.
    This could become excellent news for our bill as long as the phenomenon is repeated throughout the month of October.

    Let's start with the facts. In the last two days, the price of gas in the Italian market is almost two thirds lower than the prices on the ["]European["].

    Odds are, if premium added to import from Algeria (or "North Africa") is not in the story, it's not public; it's is never going to be public. Especially if France is hoovering ahhh excess capacity.

    Recall, DE plausible deniability of contract-busting "reverse flow" of Nord Stream 1 mcm via Yemel to RUB-hating PL.

    by Cat on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 04:44:18 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Gas, crolla il prezzo in Italia: costa un terzo rispetto all'Europa. E ora lo esportiamo | il Repubblico |

    It can be clearly seen from the prices: the Ttf index, listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange and a reference point for trading in Europe, on Monday reached a peak of 220 euros per megawatt hour, while in Italy the values ​​at PSV (virtual trading point) which serves as a reference for the Italian market has reached a minimum peak of 80 euros. Basically, operators had much more interest in selling in the rest of Europe than in keeping the gas or selling it in Italy.

    The stockpiles (the filling of which had caused the price to rise) are now 90% full and can be used in case of need, calming the market. Two-thirds of Russian gas was replaced by Algerian gas, gas arriving by ship and alternative suppliers such as Norway and Azerbaijan (TAP will rise to 9.5 billion cubic meters at the end of the year against 7.5 of 2021).

    'Sapere aude'
    by Oui (Oui) on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 05:23:14 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    by Cat on Wed Sep 28th, 2022 at 08:32:46 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

    It is no coincidence that gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2 are both leaking. That's what former commander Mart de Kruif says. Putin says he is doing everything he can to win the war in Ukraine.

    'Sapere aude'

    by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 08:43:03 PM EST
    Baby it's cold outside ... it's not our war 🇳🇱 ... Rutte IV increases delivery lethal weapons to win the war

    'Sapere aude'
    by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 08:44:55 PM EST
    As the four coalition parties lose 5 seats 🇺🇦 Sláva Ukrayíni!

    Worries about purchasing power has not disappeared after extra billions, Labour Party (PvdA) profits the most in seats in latest polls.

    'Sapere aude'

    by Oui (Oui) on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 08:46:42 PM EST
    19 Sep episode: WaPoo identified [former NSC staff] David Agranovich, Facebook's [current] director for global threat disruption.

    This Week: The US American uniparty fall guy is Ben Nimmo, Meta [Platform]'s global threat intelligence lead.
    Politico.eu.com | China influence operation targeted US midterm elections, 27 Sep

    Ahead of November's vote, a social media influence operation originating in the world's second-largest economy targeted American voters of both major parties, according to a report released Tuesday by Meta [Platforms].
    ... This network's activity was split into four clusters. The first, mostly in Chinese, posted mainly about geopolitical issues, criticizing the US. The second and third clusters, mainly in English, targeted both sides [sic] of the political spectrum in the US. The fourth, in Czech, targeted the Czech Republic. As the network's targeting shifted over time, we also saw a shift in tactics. During the first two efforts, the network ran fake accounts that posted and shared comments and memes. The third US-focused cluster added Pages and political hashtags. On Facebook, these hashtags were used almost exclusively by this network, rather than authentic communities.
    missing a YUGE opportunity to dupe independent, or unaffiliated, registered and likely voters!
    The Activity -- which ran between November 2021 and September 2022 -- used fake social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter[,] and Instagram to peddle partisan messaging on [top secret classified] hot button topics like abortion rights and the COVID-19 pandemic, often targeting swing states like Florida [MI and WI?], based on Meta's analysis.
    < wipes tears >
    "Part of the reason for exposing [this campaign] is to raise that flag and say, on [top secret classified] hot button issues like abortion and gun control, here's an operation that was trying to hit both sides," Ben Nimmo, Meta's global threat intelligence lead, told POLITICO. "Let's all just be a little bit wary. Let's make sure we don't take our eye off the ball."

    Meta did not give details on how it associated the covert influence campaign with individuals based in China, nor could it directly attribute the activity to specific groups like the Chinese Communist Party. As part of its report, the social media giant said it had used a number of factors, including some of the fake social media posts being written in Chinese, often during the working day in China, to link the activity to somewhere within the authoritarian country.

    "It's a combination of different technical and behavioral indicators ["inauthentic behavior"!] we use [that cross reference] with each other and point [in] the same direction," Nimmo added....

    by Cat on Tue Sep 27th, 2022 at 10:40:47 PM EST
    Exclusive: `Concealed, adaptable' weapon of NSA's cyberattack on leading Chinese aviation university exposed | Global Times |

    Cyberattack was launched on the email system of Northwestern Polytechnical University in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province - well-known for its aviation, aerospace and navigation studies.

    On September 5, a Chinese technical team announced that by extracting many trojans samples from internet terminals of Northwestern Polytechnical University, under the support of European and South Asian partners, it initially identified that the cyberattack to the university was conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) (Code S32) under the Data Reconnaissance Bureau (Code S3) of the Information Department (Code S) of US' NSA.

    Aiming at Northwestern Polytechnical University, TAO used 41 types of weapons to steal the core technology data including key network equipment configuration, network management data, and core operational data. The technical team discovered more than 1,100 attack links had infiltrated inside the university and more than 90 operating instruction sequences, which stole multiple network device configuration files, and other types of logs and key files, the team said.

    'Sapere aude'
    by Oui (Oui) on Thu Sep 29th, 2022 at 10:40:19 PM EST

    'Sapere aude'
    by Oui (Oui) on Thu Sep 29th, 2022 at 10:41:18 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

    'Sapere aude'
    by Oui (Oui) on Sat Oct 1st, 2022 at 07:30:23 AM EST

    QAnon build on a Gaming Platform - Al Jazeera docu

    A Game Designer's Analysis of QAnon | Medium - Sept. 30, 2020 |

    Related ...

    The Interactions Group and Reed Berkowitz:
    The Wonder Machine and Guided Apophenia * Blend&Bleed: On Transreality and Pervasive Play

    'Sapere aude'

    by Oui (Oui) on Sun Oct 2nd, 2022 at 05:53:40 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

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