What the "Left" is Talking About today
Because sometimes I want to share.
On the investigative blog The Daily Kos, which is often dismissed here as being "leftist", todays story might be of interest.
As I wrote yesterday , there is a leaked email that has gotten surprisingly little attention around here. It's the one where Aaron Barr discusses his intention to post at Daily Kos - presumably something negative about Anonymous, the hacking group. But that's not the email I'm talking about here.
As I also mentioned yesterday, in some of the emails, HB Gary people are talking about creating "personas", what we would call sockpuppets. This is not new. PR firms have been using fake "people" to promote products and other things for a while now, both online and even in bars and coffee houses.
But for a defense contractor with ties to the federal government, Hunton & Williams, DOD, NSA, and the CIA - whose enemies are labor unions, progressive organizations, journalists, and progressive bloggers, a persona apparently goes far beyond creating a mere sockpuppet.
According to an embedded MS Word document found in one of the HB Gary emails, it involves creating an army of sockpuppets, with sophisticated "persona management" software that allows a small team of only a few people to appear to be many, while keeping the personas from accidentally cross-contaminating each other. Then, to top it off, the team can actually automate some functions so one persona can appear to be an entire Brooks Brothers riot online.Persona management entails not just the deconfliction of persona artifacts such as names, email addresses, landing pages, and associated content. It also requires providing the human actors technology that takes the decision process out of the loop when using a specific persona. For this purpose we custom developed either virtual machines or thumb drives for each persona. This allowed the human actor to open a virtual machine or thumb drive with an associated persona and have all the appropriate email accounts, associations, web pages, social media accounts, etc. pre-established and configured with visual cues to remind the actor which persona he/she is using so as not to accidentally cross-contaminate personas during use.
And all of this is for the purposes of infiltration, data mining, and (here's the one that really worries me) ganging up on bloggers, commenters and otherwise "real" people to smear enemies and distort the truth.
This is an excerpt from one of the Word Documents, which was sent as an attachment by Aaron Barr, CEO of HB Gary's Federal subsidiary, to several of his colleagues to present to clients:
To build this capability we will create a set of personas on twitter, blogs, forums, buzz, and myspace under created names that fit the profile (satellitejockey, hack3rman, etc). These accounts are maintained and updated automatically through RSS feeds, retweets, and linking together social media commenting between platforms. With a pool of these accounts to choose from, once you have a real name persona you create a Facebook and LinkedIn account using the given name, lock those accounts down and link these accounts to a selected # of previously created social media accounts, automatically pre-aging the real accounts.
This is important to an investing website, because as we all know greed, lies, and thievery all go hand in hand. As the article suggests, 'sockpuppets' are being used to promote products, electronically coordinated 'sockpuppets' would be more effective. And lets face it, the stock market is not immune to schemes such as this either. Recently I took a slightly different postion on ethanol than TMFDeej. Let me clarify right now that I do not believe Deej is a sockpuppet, or scammer, or anything other than he represents himself to be. I trust him, but I also understand he can be wrong and vulnerable to his preconceived politics just as I am.
Last year (6-03-09) I picked a grain ETF (JJG) as my pick in the "allstarportfolio" based on my preconceived politics that climate scientists are telling the truth as best as they can. It was a long term/safe idea which is what the portfolio asked us for, 5yrs, because I believed science was beginning to understand that climate would change faster than previously thought. At the time there also existed an "ethanol mandate", and it was hotly debated and it was not a secret. One year after that pick was made, with no impact from the ethanol mandate it had floundered close to zero gain until the end of June 2010, when it started to go up. After rising 50% from June 2010 through Dec 2010 Deej writes his first ethanol post, based upon a Yahoo investing story he linked to, blaming evil Government mandates for ethanol, which is a pretty popular theme in the "trading" world.
When I went looking into the "ethanol" story, I found pages of Google hits, all repeating the same story, some differently but using mostly 'cut and paste' quotes and because I had been paying attention I also knew that all of these storys were only one month old when, as Deej said, the ethanol story was "good for investors who saw it coming" and also warned us that the "run-up" had already been going on.
Now go back to the Kos story and think about that technology, the ability to let one person appear as ten or more independent personalitys to promote a political view on a variety of electronic media. And think about that technology in the hands of Goldman Sachs traders, or any hedge fund, that might let you in today on the secret of what they bought back in June.
And think about recent history. Think about the endless pumping of a dot.com bubble, then the housing bubble, then the commodities bubble after that. Think about the ratings agencys in collusion with the hedge funds and investment banks dumping their crap onto your pension fund and think about who went to jail for that scam. Think about the trading advice you have been getting in the last few years, about trading vs investing. Think about the reports that 70% or more of all stock trades are high frequency trading. Or about the politics of putting your Social Security money in addition to your 401k in the hands of "Mr Market".
Think about this player I started; Highpaidceo - This players picks are compiled from the 200 highest paid ceo's according to http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/paywatch/ceou/database.cfm All of this players ceo's make more than $11,000,000 annually.
Look at this players sectors and Think about who is really benefitting when their is no "public" option in healthcare and no "socialist" single player. think about who really benefits when you tell your democratic Government not to deal with Global warming.
Think about the Congressmen and Senators who ran on "government is evil" and whether that means they have already been "captured" by coprorate masters.
Here is the link to the story, because there is more, including evidence that not only are private companys using this, but also the United States Government. And just for David and Chris, who seem to have nothing to do all day but sit home and await my liberal, environmental posts and attempt to smear my credibility after my taking a stand in favor of ethanol policys that hurt oil companys, unlike Deej I suspect you are these people, especially because you share too many of their "enemys" in common and your politics encourages the "capture" of Government by your continued disparagng even of those poiticians and beauracracys that are getting it right.
David and Chris - whose enemies are labor unions, progressive organizations, journalists, and progressive bloggers,
Best wishes, and be careful out there.