New Snowden Docs: British Spies Manipulate Polls and Pageview Counts, Censor Videos They Don't Like and Amplify Messages They Do

George Washington's picture

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

And see this.

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QEternity's picture

Happening intensifies

JoJoJo's picture

Who needs a Google search engine optimizer when the Brit government can amplify your web page views to make your website look more popular than it is?

londoncalling's picture

as this is an article about the uk i will offer a perspective as a brit

i don't like the idea of my privacy being invaded (i guess most brits don't)

i don't really like the idea of spy agencies using modern methods to smear for their own agenda (but why wouldn't they keep up with the times)

governments forever have given themselves draconian powers (and rarely used them)

there are a million things i could worry about on this perfect sunny evening in england

whether the governent has the means or inclination to monitor me, smear me, make me dissapear aren't even on the list

they've had these powers for years and of the 63,000,000 living in the uk, i'm pretty sure i'm not that high on their too do list

now please form an orderly queue to down arrow me



The Wizard's picture

The high list ranking is for those who spend their energy exposing their nefarious ways and pusue the truth. Apparently you are not a big enough thorn in the side of the Beast.

failsafe's picture

I won't down arrow you. Because I live in the us where everyone seems to think television and youtube were invented to teach people how humans behave and what their personality should be.. I am far more worried abut the idiots I work with manufacturing vindictive crap rumors and trying to install keyloggers on my machine at work so they can play some infantile office politics version of their NSA role models lol....

Dublinmick's picture

Better to be the hammer and not  the nail .

Yes Britain is nut house, not much you can do about it.

londoncalling's picture

sorry, duplication

Dublinmick's picture

This is a great example of the topiic here. Now I don't consider the cryptogram a tower of correct info myself but while looking around today I noticed this below. They are trying to put across the British secret service as a noble outfit trying to reign in the establishment. This gives the sheep some hope that somebody out there is working in their behalf and they need to keep "hoping for change". LOL The home office and the establishment is the the secret service. In fact they elect American presidents and work for the crown who also prints our money. They are uncovering some high level pedo outfits in Britain now days for show as too many people are finding out about it. That is all it amounts too.

BRITISH security services infiltrated and funded the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange in a covert operation to identify and possibly blackmail establishment figures, a Home Office whistleblower alleges.

Dublinmick's picture


"folks are gonna have to give up their strong desire for leaders, heroes & dis-info to support their fake realities."

Time wave zero and Kalki will restore the balance.

potato's picture

The only reason they are able to do that is because they have so much of our money (taxes).

We ought to promote causes that fight against the aforementioned by funding them with bitcoin. Talented operatives need pecuniary recompense for their efforts to create a secure Internet infrastructure. 

JRobby's picture

Framed by the online police.

The new normal as DNA testing has now released so many of the incarcerated due to frame ups.

I guess there will be a new type of defense council to deal with this type of frame.

the grateful unemployed's picture

phase one: DNA testing releases many in jail. phase two: DNA testing puts many more in jail who weren't in there in the first place, and for crimes you [thought] didn't exist. first they get your trust....

by analogy here is an anecdote from several decades ago, when a congressional team got into mainland China to find factories shipping goods to HK (which was illegal at the time) and the Chinese were too quick, they were always one step ahead, until one day the Reps found a factory manager (he had sent all the workers home) and he proved especially candid. he said " we have prison labor, and we used to have all sorts of petty criminals, pickpockets, whores. these people were not good workers. then we had the political crackdown, college professors, intellectuals, and these people are much better workers."

ThisIsBob's picture

Everybody does that. 

Smiley's picture

Modern society has been brought down by lethargy.  Apathy has become the thermonuclear warhead of the 21'st century.

Peter Pan's picture

People pretty much know they are being spied on, monitored and all the rest but the average dumbo pretty much accepts that as a fait accompli and any further pre-occupation with this simply results in a loss of valuable time which could instead be used to eat, be entertained and sleep.

I am afraid Snowden's revelations are competing with the "real" news and the "real" news is ahead.

Ghordius's picture

GW, OT: some food for your blog: today's FT article on the Cameron Cabinet reshuffle had this remarkable comment in it:

"The sacking of Dominic Grieve as attorney-general has removed a major obstacle to the Tories promising to withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights at the next election, a policy opposed by Mr Grieve"

as a reminder, the European Convention of Human Rights has all european countries as members except for - as one commenter wrote "that crackpot dictatorship between Poland and Russia, both members of the ECHR"

8th Estate's picture

The cheapest intruder deterrent is a sign saying "Beware of the Dog"

Actual dog optional.

Same in cyberwarfare.

Just get a sign that says "Behave yourselves - we have loads of clever kit"

Clever kit optional.

VWAndy's picture

What if a judge ordered them to give access to a county civil grand jury? Just sayin there are lots of ways they could loose control of it. Some rouge group of mid level guys go for the big scam. Its just human nature. Just like it got out of the governments ability to control. It will get out of these guys control too.

doctor10's picture

yah.I't liiterally be about the last thinga that jugde ever did-before they found midget dwarf underage porn on his computer

VWAndy's picture

The good news is its the government. You can count on them to fuck it up. They have created an army of thieves and blackmailers. What could go wrong?

 They have a proven track record of being void of integrity. All bets are off with a pack like that.

 Another way this could get out of hand is vidio tape of them blackmailing somebody.

 Blackmail is not without risks. One catch is if a person does not care any more about the big secret. That would free the person to admit to being blackmailed.



NSA PSYOPS eat retard sandwiches for lunch every day IMHO. They

are goofy and their mothers dress them funny too. If I were an American I would apply for refugee status in some other country just to get away from the embarrassment of being American in today's de-Americanized world. Frankly, if you brought Edward Snowden back to the USA like the fucking New York Times Editorial Board advised you to we would not be

discussing what the mindless retards in the NSA are doing today.


p.s. that ought to fix the little retard bastards.

Bon Appetit`, NSA.


VWAndy's picture

The day they get hacked they will burn it all to the ground. Its only going to get harder for them to keep the data safe.

 As dangerous as this data is in the wrong hands? Just think if it ever got into the right hands?

notadouche's picture

"Cointel Pro" for the new millenium?

NoWayJose's picture

It will be very hard for the government to use any electronic records to prosecute anyone - all the defense has to do is say "the government made that up and stuck it into my electronic records". How can the government deny doing it?

Loose Caboose's picture

With the ND double-fucking A there is no defense.

Bro of the Sorrowful Figure's picture

im guessing youre not going to have access to any legitimate defense once the government starts really using electronic records to prosecute people. maybe they'll give you a kangaroo for representation.

cougar_w's picture

Well. I do some work with network engineering and I can tell you these systems are not very stable. I really do not have a high expectation that "the internet" would survive for very long if any part of the army of technical people that keep it going were to walk away.

Why walk away? Even if you don't allow any to walk away for political purposes, many are losing their jobs every day, down-sizing and right-sizing and realigning and all the other bullshit reasons to let people go. A lot of support is outsourced to India, many others are simply retiring and their positions go unfilled, or are filled with junior workers who can keep the wheels turning (on a good day) but cannot add anything. There are companies running parts of the internet that could go bankrupt and those workers might do other work as a result, flipping burgers, whatever. But not on the Net.

I don't have any numbers, but I'll give you my gut feeling, and I have the feeling that the internet is vulnerable to a kind of senility due to loss of senior engineers. And this is going on right now.

So I don't think the NSA is going to have much luck in the future tracking down all the terrorists they think we're becoming.

The internet will be the first modern machine to fall apart. There simply won't be enough linked data traversing a fragmented network for their algos to paint a picture of who they want.

failsafe's picture

christ If only I could hope people would start ditching it lol my fingers are crossed would be a chaotic nightmare at first but ...I survived pretty well for over 30 years without GAF about it so ..bring it on. lol

the grateful unemployed's picture

i like what you are saying, although i can turn it on its head, without quality engineers, its going to much easier for a covert police force to demand access and control. if i ran mcdonalds and i wanted so serve pink slime instead of hamburger i would need to hire excons and dropouts and drug addicts to flip those burgers. to make your case (by analogy) that hasn't happened, so you are probably correct. i also suspect the centralized corporate franchise (food service by example) is going the way of the dinosaur, and places like walmart, large buildings, long supply lines, its the same formula that brought down Rome in Europe

Sedaeng's picture

So I don't think the NSA is going to have much luck in the future tracking down all the terrorists they think we're becoming.

Um, they just want to control us.  no matter how many times they scream 'terrorist', its simply about control...

Fish Gone Bad's picture

I honestly do not think things will get any different, any time soon.  The "bad guys" spy machines were all dismantled when they were either defeated, or their economies collapsed.  The NSA and their compatriots do what they do because they can, and there is very little anyone will do to change things.

r0mulus's picture

George, are you in any way affiliated with Washington's Blog? You seem to cite it quite often.
Sorry if I missed any previous memos...

are we there yet's picture

Putin must be happy that Sowden has made him immune from America about Russian human rights and privacy problems. Putin must be even happier that Snowden is hurting the US image, attacking british, and our allies in different ways. If Putin was paying Snowden to harm the US, he dould not do a better job at doing it. That duck quacks like a traitor not a noble figure. I'll grant that he had a cute girlfriend in Hawaii, but he likely has a hot russian model now.

This British cirtique seems to be timed with Snowden's new amnisty application visa in Russia. Or it looks like it.

Boubou's picture

You have no point. The facts of what the US has done would be the same if Charles Manson made the revelations. 

It is the US itself by it's actions that has managed to make Putin and pretty much every one else look good.

ajax's picture



"Leave Israel Alone!"  Yes I agree, as in "completely alone" as in "Stop all 'foreign aid'" to Israel.

failsafe's picture

LMAO and another billion votes for ditching the internet lol

are we there yet's picture

THis girl can vote (and reproduce), but maby should do neither.

pazmaker's picture

Vulcan I'd give you 10,000 up arrows if I could.    You are so right.    Almost our whole populas are bisfully ignorant and apathetic, and then there are those like me that so frustrated and overwhelmed that we feel hopeless to do anything about it.

vulcanraven's picture

I see videos like the one above, and then read articles like this:

and then it all becomes clear... the pussification of America is almost complete. Masculinity seems to be discouraged at every turn, when the SHTF and it comes time to defend liberty I fear there will be few real men left.


goneYonder's picture

I followed the link, and to be honest, the guy got crap advice from his dad. Dominating and controlling people is what it means to be a man? No, though self-control is a big part of it. 

tvdog's picture

Thanks for the comment illustrating the article's topic.

Bazza McKenzie's picture

Simple questions: 

Did Snowden reveal a raft of unconstitutional behavior that threatens the freedom and privacy of most Americans?

Did NSA and every channel of government strenuously deny they were doing this and then were forced to confess some of it (which they have not stopped)?

It does not matter a whit whether this makes Putin happy.  It only matters that successive US governments have turned the "land of the free" into the surveillance state.

Snowden is a patriot and hero and those who attack him are part of the traitorous scum that have destroyed liberty in the US.