Update 1/17/2013: We have requested clarification regarding the takedown request and have not received a response. We will provide updates on any new developments.
Update 4/3/2012: Above Top Secret’s legal agent never responded to our request for clarification of their takedown request. The original thread has now been moved to the “Hoax” category of the website, as ATS claims the author admitted it was a hoax in a private exchange. To the best of our knowledge, this private exchange or the details thereof have not been posted publicly to substantiate this claim. Regardless, we believe that covert operations to manipulate online opinion and debate do exist (and indeed have been publicly acknowledged in many of the supporting links below). Whether this specific case is true or not, it remains a valuable and provocative dialogue still worthy of consideration.
CLN Editor’s Note: The type of propaganda strategy described in the article below occurs across a wide range of topics and is employed by various corporate, political, and governmental groups to promote a variety of agendas. It is called astroturfing, and it is far more common than most would imagine.
This post is not about Israel, and it is not partisan. It is simply an illustration of the mechanics of how online debate can be manipulated. As this is an anonymous post, we have no way of verifying the information contained herein, and it is presented only for your consideration.
Our intent in posting this is not to spread paranoia or incite shill witch hunts, but merely to encourage readers to view what they read and engage with online with a more discerning eye.
This alleged confession is presented verbatim from its original thread to preserve its integrity. As such, you may notice some minor typographical errors.
For more information on this important topic, see:
- Revealed: US Spy Operation That Manipulates Social Media
- Astroturfing: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?
- Corporate-Funded Online ‘Astroturfing’ Is More Advanced and More Automated Than You Might Think
- DON’T TRUST THE WEB
- Online Astroturfing Gets Sophisticated
- US Military Says Metal Gear Sock Puppets Are Real
- Millions Spent to Confuse Public About Geoengineering (Not specifically about online “astroturfing,” but alludes to the same core propaganda strategy)
– Alcyone @CLN
I Was a Paid Internet Shill
By Ex-Shill, Above Top Secret
I am writing here to come out of the closet as a paid shill. For a little over six months, I was paid to spread disinformation and argue political points on the Internet. This site, ATS, was NOT one that I was assigned to post on, although other people in the same organization were paid to be here, and I assume they still walk among you. But more on this later.
I quit this job in the latter part of 2011, because I became disgusted with it, and with myself. I realized I couldn’t look myself in the mirror anymore. If this confession triggers some kind of retribution against me, so be it. Part of being a real man in this world is having real values that you stand up for, no matter what the consequences.
My story begins in early 2011. I had been out of work for almost a year after losing my last job in tech support. Increasingly desperate and despondent, I jumped at the chance when a former co-worker called me up and said she had a possible lead for me. “It is an unusual job, and one that requires secrecy. But the pay is good. And I know you are a good writer, so its something you are suited for.” (Writing has always been a hobby for me).
She gave me only a phone-number and an address, in one of the seedier parts of San Francisco, where I live. intrigued, I asked her for the company’s URL and some more info. She laughed. “They don’t have a website. Or even a name. You’ll see. Just tell them I referred you.” Yes, it sounded suspicious, but long-term joblessness breeds desperation, and desperation has a funny way of overlooking the suspicious when it comes to putting food on the table.
The next day, I arrived at the address – the third floor in a crumbling building. The appearance of the place did not inspire confidence. After walking down a long, filthy linoleum-covered corridor lit by dimly-flickering halogen, I came to the entrance of the office itself: a crudely battered metal door with a sign that said “United Amalgamated Industries, Inc.”
I later learned that this “company” changed its name almost monthly, always using bland names like that which gave no strong impression of what the company actually does. Not too hopeful, I went inside. The interior was equally shabby. There were a few long tables with folding chairs, at which about a dozen people were tapping away on old, beat-up computers. There were no decorations or ornaments of any type: not even the standard-issue office fica trees or plastic ferns. What a dump. Well, beggars can’t be choosers.
The manager, a balding man in his late forties, rose from the only stand-alone desk in the room and came forward with an easy smile. “You must be Chris. Yvette [my ex-co-worker] told me you’d be coming.” [Not our real names]. “Welcome. Let me tell you a little about what we do.” No interview, nothing. I later learned they took people based solely on referral, and that the people making the referrals, like my ex-colleague Yvette, were trained to pick out candidates based on several factors including ability to keep one’s mouth shut, basic writing skills, and desperation for work.
We sat down at his desk and he began by asking me a few questions about myself and my background, including my political views (which were basically non-existent). Then he began to explain the job. “We work on influencing people’s opinions here,” is how he described it. The company’s clients paid them to post on Internet message boards and popular chartrooms, as well as in gaming forums and social networks like Facebook and MySpace. Who were these clients? “Oh, various people,” he said vaguely. “Sometimes private companies, sometimes political groups.”
Satisfied that my political views were not strong, he said I would be assigned to political work. “The best people for this type of job are people like you, without strong views,” he said with a laugh. “It might seem counterintuitive, but actually we’ve found that to be the case.” Well, OK. Fine. As long as it comes with a steady paycheck, I’d believe whatever they wanted me to believe, as the guy in Ghostbusters said.
After discussing pay (which was much better than I’d hoped) and a few other details, he then went over the need for absolute privacy and secrecy. “You can’t tell anyone what we do here. Not your wife, not your dog.” (I have neither, as it happens.) “We’ll give you a cover story and even a phone number and a fake website you can use. You will have to tell people you are a consultant. Since your background is in tech support, that will be your cover job. Is this going to be a problem for you?” I assured him it would not. “Well, OK. Shall we get started?”
“Right now?” I asked, a bit taken aback.
“No time like the present!” he said with a hearty laugh.
The rest of the day was taken up with training. Another staff member, a no-nonsense woman in her thirties, was to be my trainer, and training would only last two days. “You seem like a bright guy, you’ll get the hang of it pretty fast, I think,” she said. And indeed, the job was easier than I’d imagined. My task was simple: I would be assigned to four different websites, with the goal of entering certain discussions and promoting a certain view. I learned later that some of the personnel were assigned to internet message boards (like me), while others worked on Facebook or chatrooms. It seems these three types of media each have different strategy for shilling, and each shill concentrates on one of the three in particular.
My task? “To support Israel and counter anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic posters.” Fine with me. I had no opinions one way or another about Israel, and who likes anti-Semites and Nazis? Not me, anyway. But I didn’t know too much about the topic. “That’s OK,” she said. “You’ll pick it up as you go along. For the most part, at first, you will be doing what we call “meme-patrol.” This is pretty easy. Later if you show promise, we’ll train you for more complex arguments, where more in-depth knowledge is necessary.”
She handed me two binders with sheets enclosed in limp plastic. The first was labeled simply “Israel” in magic-marker on the cover, and it had two sections .The first section contained basic background info on the topic. I would have to read and memorize some of this, as time went on. It had internet links for further reading, essays and talking points, and excerpts from some history books. The second, and larger, section was called “Strat” (short for “strategy”) with long lists of “dialogue pairs.” These were specific responses to specific postings.
If a poster wrote something close to “X,” we were supposed to respond with something close to “Y.” “You have to mix it up a bit, though,” said my trainer. “Otherwise it gets too obvious. Learn to use a thesaurus.” This section also contained a number of hints for de-railing conversations that went too far away from what we were attempting. These strategies included various forms of personal attacks, complaining to the forum moderators, smearing the characters of our opponents, using images and icons effectively, and even dragging the tone of the conversation down with sexual innuendo, links to pornography, or other such things. “Sometimes we have to fight dirty,” or trainer told us. “Our opponents don’t hesitate to, so we can’t either.”
The second binder was smaller, and it contained information specific to the web sites I would be assigned to. The sites I would work were: Godlike Productions, Lunatic Outpost, CNN news, Yahoo News, and a handful of smaller sites that rotated depending on need. As stated, I was NOT assigned to work ATS (although others in my group were), which is part of the reason I am posting this here, rather than elsewhere. I wanted to post this on Godlike Productions at first, but they have banned me from even viewing that site for some reason (perhaps they are onto me?). But if somebody connected with this site can get the message to them, I think they should know about it, because that was the site I spent a good 70% of my time working on.
The site-specific info in the second binder included a brief history each site, including recent flame-wars, as well as info on what to avoid on each site so as not to get banned. It also had quite detailed info on the moderators and the most popular regged posters on each site: location (if known), personality type, topics of interest, background sketch, and even some notes on how to “push the psychological buttons” of different posters. Although I didn’t work for ATS, I did see they had a lot of info on your so-called “WATS” posters here (the ones with gold borders around their edges). “Focus on the popular posters,” my trainer told me. “These are the influential ones. Each of these is worth 50 to 100 of the lesser known names.”
Each popular poster was classified as “hostile,” “friendly,” or “indifferent” to my goal. We were supposed to cultivate friendship with the friendly posters as well as the mods (basically, by brownnosing and sucking up), and there were even notes on strategies for dealing with specific hostile posters. The info was pretty detailed, but not perfect in every case. “If you can convert one of the hostile posters from the enemy side to our side, you get a nice bonus. But this doesn’t happen too often, sadly. So mostly you’ll be attacking them and trying to smear them.”
At first, like I said, my job was “meme-patrol.” This was pretty simple and repetitive; it involved countering memes and introducing new memes, and didn’t demand much in-depth knowledge of the subject. Mostly just repetitive posting based on the dialogue pairs in the “Strat” section of the first binder. A lot of my job was de-railing and spamming threads that didn’t go our way, or making accusations of racism and anti-Semitism. Sometimes I had to simply lie and claim a poster said something or did something “in another thread” they really hadn’t said or done I felt bad about this…but in the end I felt worse about the possibility of losing the first job I’d been able to get since losing my “real” job.
The funny thing was, although I started the job with no strong opinions or political views, after a few weeks of this I became very emotionally wedded to the pro-Israel ideas I was pushing. There must be some psychological factor at work…a good salesman learns to honestly love the products he’s selling, I guess. It wasn’t long before my responses became fiery and passionate, and I began to learn more about the topic on my own. “This is a good sign,” my trainer told me. “It means you are ready for the next step: complex debate.”
The “complex debate” part of the job involved a fair amount of additional training, including memorizing more specific information about the specific posters (friendly and hostile) I’d be sparring with. Here, too, there were scripts and suggested lines of argument, but we were given more freedom. There were a lot of details to this more advanced stage of the job – everything from how to select the right avatar to how to use “demotivationals” (humorous images with black borders that one finds floating around the web). Even the proper use of images of cats was discussed. Sometimes we used faked or photo-shopped images or doctored news reports (something else that bothered me).
I was also given the job of tying to find new recruits, people “like me” who had the personality type, ability to keep a secret, basic writing/thinking skills, and desperation necessary to sign on a shill. I was less successful at this part of the job, though, and I couldn’t find another in the time I was there.
After a while of doing this, I started to feel bad. Not because of the views I was pushing (as I said, I was first apolitical, then pro-Israel), but because of the dishonesty involved. If my arguments were so correct, I wondered, why did we have to do this in the first place? Shouldn’t truth propagate itself naturally, rather than through, well…propaganda? And who was behind this whole operation, anyway? Who was signing my paychecks? The stress of lying to my parents and friends about being a “consultant” was also getting to me. Finally, I said enough was enough. I quit in September 2011. Since then I’ve been working a series of unglamorous temp office jobs for lower pay. But at least I’m not making my living lying and heckling people who come online to express their views and exercise freedom of speech.
A few days ago I happened to be in the same neighborhood and on a whim thought I’d check out the old office. It turns out the operation is gone, having moved on. This, too, I understood, is part of their strategy: Don’t stay in the same place for too long, don’t keep the same name too long, move on after half a year or so. Keeping a low profile, finding new employees through word of mouth: All this is part of the shill way of life. But it is a deceptive way of life, and no matter how noble the goals (I remain pro-Israel, by the way), these sleazy means cannot be justified by the end.
This is my confession. I haven’t made up my mind yet about whether I want to talk more about this, so if I don’t respond to this thread, don’t be angry. But I think you should know: Shills exist. They are real. They walk among you, and they pay special attention to your popular gold-bordered WATS posters. You should be aware of this. What you choose to do with this awareness is up to you.
Finally, let’s not forget our “25 Rules of Disinformation”
by H. Michael Sweeney 1997 from HasslBerger Website
Built upon Thirteen Techniques for Truth Suppression by David Martin, the following may be useful to the initiate in the world of dealing with truth, lies, and suppression of truth when serious crimes are studied in public forums.
Where the crime involves a conspiracy, or a conspiracy to cover up the crime, there will invariably be a disinformation campaign launched against those seeking to uncover and expose the conspiracy. There are specific tactics which disinfo artists tend to apply, as revealed here. Also included with this material are seven common traits of the disinfo artist which may also prove useful in identifying players and motives.
The more a particular party fits the traits and is guilty of following the rules, the more likely they are a professional disinfo artist with a vested motive.
Understand that when the those seeking resolution of such crimes proceed in attempting to uncover truth, they try their best to present factual information constructed as an argument for a particular chain of evidence towards a particular solution to the crime. This can be a largely experimental process via trial and error, with a theory developed over time to perfection or defeated by the process.
This is their most vulnerable time, the time when a good disinfo artist can do the greatest harm to the process.
A rational person participating as one interested in the truth will evaluate that chain of evidence and conclude either that the links are solid and conclusive, that one or more links are weak and need further development before conclusion can be arrived at, or that one or more links can be broken, usually invalidating (but not necessarily so, if parallel links already exist or can be found, or if a particular link was merely supportive, but not in itself key) the argument.
The game is played by raising issues which either strengthen or weaken (preferably to the point of breaking) these links. It is the job of a disinfo artist to at least make people think the links are weak or broken when, in truth, they are not.
It would seem true in almost every instance, that if one cannot break the chain of evidence, revelation of truth has won out. If the chain is broken either a new link must be forged, or a whole new chain developed, or the basis is lost, but truth still wins out. There is no shame in being the creator or supporter of a failed chain if done with honesty in search of the truth. This is the rational approach.
While it is understandable that a person can become emotionally involved with a particular side of a given issue, it is really unimportant who wins, as long as truth wins. But the disinfo artist will seek to emotionalize and chastise any failure (real or false claims thereof), and will seek to prevent new links from being forged by a kind of intimidation.
It is the disinfo artist and those who may pull his strings who stand to suffer should the crime be solved, and therefore, who stand to benefit should it be the opposite outcome.
In ANY such case, they MUST seek to prevent rational and complete examination of any chain of evidence which would hang them. Since fact and truth seldom fall on their own, they must be overcome with lies and deceit. Those who are professional in the art of lies and deceit, such as the intelligence community and the professional criminal (often the same people or at least working together), tend to apply fairly well defined and observable tools in this process.
However, the public at large is not well armed against such weapons, and is often easily led astray by these time-proven tactics.
The overall aim is to avoid discussing links in the chain of evidence which cannot be broken by truth, but at all times, to use clever deceptions or lies to make the links seem weaker than they are, or better still, cause any who are considering the chain to be distracted in any number of ways, including the method of questioning the credentials of the presenter.
Please understand that:
fact is fact, regardless of the source
truth is truth, regardless of the source
This is why criminals are allowed to testify against other criminals. Where a motive to lie may truly exist, only actual evidence that the testimony itself IS a lie renders it completely invalid.
Were a known “liar’s” testimony to stand on its own without supporting fact, it might certainly be of questionable value, but if the testimony (argument) is based on verifiable or otherwise demonstrable facts, it matters not who does the presenting or what their motives are, or if they have lied in the past or even if motivated to lie in this instance – the facts or links would and should stand or fall on their own merit and their part in the matter will merely be supportive.
Moreover, particularly with respects to public forums such as newspaper letters to the editor, and Internet chat and news groups, the disinfo type has a very important role. In these forums, the principle topics of discussion are generally attempts by individuals to cause other persons to become interested in their own particular problem, position, or idea – usually ideas, postulations, or theories which are in development at the time. People often use such mediums as a sounding board and in hopes of pollenization to better form their ideas.
Where such ideas are critical of government or powerful, vested groups (especially if their criminality is the topic), the disinfo artist has yet another role – the role of nipping it in the bud. They also seek to stage the concept, the presenter, and any supporters as less than credible should any possible future confrontation in more public forums result due to successes in seeking a final truth.
You can often spot the disinfo types at work here by the unique application of “higher standards” of discussion than necessarily warranted. They will demand that those presenting arguments or concepts back everything up with the same level of expertise as a professor, researcher, or investigative writer. Anything less renders any discussion meaningless and unworthy in their opinion, and anyone who disagrees is obviously stupid.
So, as you read here in the NGs the various discussions on various matters, decide for yourself when a rational argument is being applied and when disinformation, psyops (psychological warfare operations) or trickery is the tool. Accuse those guilty of the later freely. They (both those deliberately seeking to lead you astray, and those who are simply foolish or misguided thinkers) generally run for cover when thus illuminated, or – put in other terms, they put up or shut up (a perfectly acceptable outcome either way, since truth is the goal).
Here are the twenty-five methods and six traits, some of which don’t apply directly to NG application. Each contains a simple example in the form of actual paraphrases form NG comments or commonly known historical events, and a proper response. Accusations should not be overused – reserve for repeat offenders and those who use multiple tactics.
Responses should avoid falling into emotional traps or informational sidetracks, unless it is feared that some observers will be easily dissuaded by the trickery. Consider quoting the complete rule rather than simply citing it, as others will not have reference.
Offer to provide a complete copy of the rule set upon request (see permissions statement at end):
Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation
Note: The first rule and last five (or six, depending on situation) rules are generally not directly within the ability of the traditional disinfo artist to apply. These rules are generally used more directly by those at the leadership, key players, or planning level of the criminal conspiracy or conspiracy to cover up.
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Regardless of what you know, don’t discuss it – especially if you are a public figure, news anchor, etc. If it’s not reported, it didn’t happen, and you never have to deal with the issues.
Example: Media was present in the courtroom when in Hunt vs. Liberty Lobby when CIA agent Marita Lorenz “confession” testimony regarding CIA direct participation in the planning and assassination of John Kennedy was revealed. All media reported is that E. Howard Hunt lost his liable case against Liberty Lobby (Spotlight had reported he was in Dallas that day and were sued for the story). See Mark Lane’s Plausible Denial for the full confessional transcript.
Proper response: There is no possible response unless you are aware of the material and can make it public yourself. In any such attempt, be certain to target any known silent party as likely complicit in a cover up.
Become incredulous and indignant. Avoid discussing key issues and instead focus on side issues which can be used show the topic as being critical of some otherwise sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the “How dare you!” gambit.
Example: “How dare you suggest that the Branch Davidians were murdered! the FBI and BATF are made up of America’s finest and best trained law enforcement, operate under the strictest of legal requirements, and are under the finest leadership the President could want to appoint.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the Waco issue with disinformation tactics. Your high opinion of FBI is not founded in fact. All you need do is examine Ruby Ridge and any number of other examples, and you will see a pattern that demands attention to charges against FBI/BATF at Waco.
Why do you refuse to address the issues with disinformation tactics (rule 2 – become incredulous and indignant)?
Create rumor mongers. Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of venue or evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. Other derogatory terms mutually exclusive of truth may work as well. This method which works especially well with a silent press, because the only way the public can learn of the facts are through such “arguable rumors”.
If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a “wild rumor” which can have no basis in fact.
“You can’t prove his material was legitimately from French Intelligence. Pierre Salinger had a chance to show his ‘proof’ that flight 800 was brought down by friendly fire, and he didn’t. All he really had was the same old baseless rumor that’s been floating around the Internet for months.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. The Internet charge reported widely is based on a single FBI interview statement to media and a supportive statement by a Congressman who has not actually seen Pierre’s document. As the FBI is being accused in participating in a cover up of this matter and Pierre claims his material is not Internet sourced, it is natural that FBI would have reason to paint his material in a negative light.
For you to assume the FBI to have no bias in the face of Salinger’s credentials and unchanged stance suggests you are biased. At the best you can say the matter is in question. Further, to imply that material found on Internet is worthless is not founded. At best you may say it must be considered carefully before accepting it, which will require addressing the actual issues.
Why do you refuse to address these issues with disinformation tactics (rule 3 – create rumor mongers)?
Use a straw man. Find or create a seeming element of your opponent’s argument which you can easily knock down to make yourself look good and the opponent to look bad. Either make up an issue you may safely imply exists based on your interpretation of the opponent/opponent arguments/situation, or select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way which appears to debunk all the charges, real and fabricated alike, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.
Example: When trying to defeat reports by the Times of London that spy-sat images reveal an object racing towards and striking flight 800, a straw man is used. “If these exist, the public has not seen them.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. You imply deceit and deliberately establish an impossible and unwarranted test. It is perfectly natural that the public has not seen them, nor will they for some considerable time, if ever. To produce them would violate national security with respect to intelligence gathering capabilities and limitations, and you should know this.
Why do you refuse to address the issues with such disinformation tactics (rule 4 – use a straw man)?
Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule. This is also known as the primary attack the messenger ploy, though other methods qualify as variants of that approach. Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as “kooks”, “right-wing”, “liberal”, “left- wing”, “terrorists”, “conspiracy buffs”, “radicals”, “militia”, “racists”, “religious fanatics”, “sexual deviates”, and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.
Example: “You believe what you read in the Spotlight? The Publisher, Willis DeCarto, is a well-known right-wing racist. I guess we know your politics – does your Bible have a swastika on it? That certainly explains why you support this wild-eyed, right- wing conspiracy theory.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your imply guilt by association and attack truth on the basis of the messenger. The Spotlight is well known Populist media source responsible for releasing facts and stories well before mainstream media will discuss the issues through their veil of silence.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 5 – sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule)?
Hit and Run. In any public forum, make a brief attack of your opponent or the opponent position and then scamper off before an answer can be fielded, or simply ignore any answer. This works extremely well in Internet and letters-to-the-editor environments where a steady stream of new identities can be called upon without having to explain criticism reasoning – simply make an accusation or other attack, never discussing issues, and never answering any subsequent response, for that would dignify the opponent’s viewpoint.
Example: “This stuff is garbage. Where do you conspiracy lunatics come up with this crap? I hope you all get run over by black helicopters.” Notice it even has a farewell sound to it, so it won’t seem curious if the author is never heard from again.
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your comments or opinions fail to offer any meaningful dialog or information, and are worthless except to pander to emotionalism, and in fact, reveal you to be emotionally insecure with these matters.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 6 – hit and run)?
Question motives. Twist or amplify any fact which could so taken to imply that the opponent operates out of a hidden personal agenda or other bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.
Example: “With the talk-show circuit and the book deal, it looks like you can make a pretty good living spreading lies.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your imply guilt as a means of attacking the messenger or his credentials, but cowardly fail to offer any concrete evidence that this is so.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 6 – question motives)?
Invoke authority. Claim for yourself or associate yourself with authority and present your argument with enough “jargon” and “minutia” to illustrate you are “one who knows”, and simply say it isn’t so without discussing issues or demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.
“You obviously know nothing about either the politics or strategic considerations, much less the technicals of the SR-71. Incidentally, for those who might care, that sleek plane is started with a pair of souped up big-block V-8′s (originally, Buick 454 C.I.D. with dual 450 CFM Holly Carbs and a full-race Isky cams – for 850 combined BHP @ 6,500 RPM) using a dragster-style clutch with direct-drive shaft.
Anyway, I can tell you with confidence that no Blackbird has ever been flown by Korean nationals have ever been trained to fly it, and have certainly never overflown the Republic of China in a SR or even launched a drone from it that flew over China. I’m not authorized to discuss if there have been overflights by American pilots.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your imply your own authority and expertise but fail to provide credentials, and you also fail to address issues and cite sources.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 8 – invoke authority)?
Play Dumb. No matter what evidence or logical argument is offered, avoid discussing issues with denial they have any credibility, make any sense, provide any proof, contain or make a point, have logic, or support a conclusion. Mix well for maximum effect.
Example: “Nothing you say makes any sense. Your logic is idiotic. Your facts nonexistent. Better go back to the drawing board and try again.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your evade the issues with your own form of nonsense while others, perhaps more intelligent than you pretend to be, have no trouble with the material.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 9 – play dumb)?
Associate opponent charges with old news. A derivative of the straw man – usually, in any large-scale matter of high visibility, someone will make charges early on which can be or were already easily dealt with. Where it can be foreseen, have your own side raise a straw man issue and have it dealt with early on as part of the initial contingency plans. Subsequent charges, regardless of validity or new ground uncovered, can usually them be associated with the original charge and dismissed as simply being a rehash without need to address current issues – so much the better where the opponent is or was involved with the original source.
Example: “Flight 553′s crash was pilot error, according to the NTSB findings. Digging up new witnesses who say the CIA brought it down at a selected spot and were waiting for it with 50 agents won’t revive that old dead horse buried by NTSB more than twenty years ago.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your ignore the issues and imply they are old charges as if new information is irrelevant.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 10 – associate charges with old news)?
Establish and rely upon fall-back positions. Using a minor matter or element of the facts, take the “high road” and “confess” with candor that some innocent mistake, in hindsight, was made – but that opponents have seized on the opportunity to blow it all out of proportion and imply greater criminalities which, “just isn’t so.” Others can reinforce this on your behalf, later. Done properly, this can garner sympathy and respect for “coming clean” and “owning up” to your mistakes without addressing more serious issues.
Example: “Reno admitted in hindsight she should have taken more time to question the data provided by subordinates on the deadliness of CS-4 and the likely Davidian response to its use, but she was so concerned about the children that she elected, in what she now believes was a sad and terrible mistake, to order the tear gas be used.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your evade the true issue by focusing on a side issue in an attempt to evoke sympathy. Perhaps you did not know that CIA Public Relations expert Mark Richards was called in to help Janet Reno with the Waco aftermath response? How warm and fuzzy feeling it makes us, so much so that we are to ignore more important matters?
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 11 – establish and rely upon fall-back positions)?
Enigmas have no solution. Drawing upon the overall umbrella of events surrounding the crime and the multitude of players and events, paint the entire affair as too complex to solve. This causes those otherwise following the matter to begin to loose interest more quickly without having to address the actual issues.
Example: “I don’t see how you can claim Vince Foster was murdered since you can’t prove a motive. Before you could do that, you would have to completely solve the whole controversy over everything that went on in the White House and Arkansas, and even then, you would have to know a heck of a lot more about what went on within the NSA, the Travel Office, and on, and on, and on. It’s hopeless. Give it up.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your completely evade issues and attempt others from daring to attempt it by making it a much bigger mountain than necessary.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 12 – enigmas have no solution)?
Alice in Wonderland Logic. Avoid discussion of the issues by reasoning backwards with an apparent deductive logic in a way that forbears any actual material fact.
Example: “The news media operates in a fiercely competitive market where stories are gold. This means they dig, dig, dig for the story – often doing a better job than law enforcement. If there was any evidence that BATF had prior knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing, they would surely have uncovered it and reported it. They haven’t reported it, so there can’t have been any prior knowledge. Put up or shut up.”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your backwards logic does not work here. Has media reported CIA killed Kennedy when they knew it? No, despite their presence at a courtroom testimony “confession” by CIA operative Marita Lornez in a liable trial between E. Howard Hunt and Liberty Lobby, they only told us the trial verdict.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 13 – Alice in Wonderland logic)?
Demand complete solutions. Avoid the issues by requiring opponents to solve the crime at hand completely, a ploy which works best items qualifying for rule 10.
Example: “Since you know so much, if James Earl Ray is innocent as you claim, who really killed Martin Luther King, how was it planned and executed, how did they frame Ray and fool the FBI, and why?”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. It is not necessary to completely resolve any full matter in order to examine any relative attached issue.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 14 – demand complete solutions)?
Fit the facts to alternate conclusions. This requires creative thinking unless the crime was planned with contingency conclusions in place.
Example: The best definitive example of avoiding issues by this technique is, perhaps, Arlan Specter’s Magic Bullet from the Warren Report.
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your imaginative twisting of facts rivals that of Arlan Specter’s Magic Bullet in the Warren Report. We all know why the magic bullet was invented.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 15 – invoke authority)?
Vanish evidence and witnesses. If it does not exist, it is not fact, and you won’t have to address the issue.
Example: “You can’t say Paisley is still alive… that his death was faked and the list of CIA agents found on his boat deliberately placed there to support a purge at CIA. You have no proof. Why can’t you accept the Police reports?” True, since the dental records and autopsy report showing his body was two inches two long and the teeth weren’t his were lost right after his wife demanded inquiry, and since his body was cremated before she could view it – – all that remains are the Police Reports. Handy.
Proper response: There is no suitable response to actual vanished materials or persons, unless you can shed light on the matter, particularly if you can tie the event to a cover up or other criminality. However, with respect to dialog where it is used against the discussion, you can respond… You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. The best you can say is that the matter is in contention based on highly suspicious matters which themselves tend to support the primary allegation.
Why do you refuse to address the remaining issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 16 – vanish evidence and witnesses)?
Change the subject. Usually in connection with one of the other ploys listed here, find a way to side-track the discussion with abrasive or controversial comments in hopes of turning attention to a new, more manageable topic. This works especially well with companions who can “argue” with you over the new topic and polarize the discussion arena in order to avoid discussing more key issues.
Example: “There were no CIA drugs and was no drug money laundering through Mena, Arkansas, and certainly, there was no Bill Clinton knowledge of it because it simply didn’t happen. This is merely an attempt by his opponents to put Clinton off balance and at a disadvantage in the election because Dole is such a weak candidate with nothing to offer that they are desperate to come up with something to swing the polls. Dole simply has no real platform.” Response. “You idiot! Dole has the clearest vision of what’s wrong with Government since McGovern. Clinton is only interested in raping the economy, the environment, and every woman he can get his hands on…” One naturally feels compelled, regardless of party of choice, to jump in defensively on that one…
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your evade discussion of the issues by attempting to sidetrack us with an emotional response – a trap which we will not fall into willingly. If you truly believe such political rhetoric, please drop out of this discussion, as it is not germane unless you can provide concrete facts to support your contentions of relevance.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 17- change the subject)?
Emotionalize, Antagonize, and Goad Opponents. If you can’t do anything else, chide and taunt your opponents and draw them into emotional responses which will tend to make them look foolish and overly motivated, and generally render their material somewhat less coherent. Not only will you avoid discussing the issues in the first instance, but even if their emotional response addresses the issue, you can further avoid the issues by then focusing on how “sensitive they are to criticism”.
Example: “You are such an idiot to think that possible – or are you such a paranoid conspiracy buff that you think the ‘gubment’ is cooking your pea-brained skull with microwaves, which is the only justification you might have for dreaming up this drivel.” After a drawing an emotional response: “Ohhh… I do seemed to have touched a sensitive nerve. Tsk, tsk. What’s the matter? The truth too hot for you to handle? Perhaps you should stop relying on the Psychic Friends Network and see a psychiatrist for some real professional help…”
Proper response: “You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. You attempt to draw me into emotional response without discussion of the issues. If you have something useful to contribute which defeats my argument, let’s here it – preferably without snide and unwarranted personal attacks, if you can manage to avoid sinking so low. Your useless rhetoric serves no purpose here if that is all you can manage.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 18 – emotionalize, antagonize, and goad opponents)?
Ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs. This is perhaps a variant of the “play dumb” rule. Regardless of what material may be presented by an opponent in public forums, claim the material irrelevant and demand proof that is impossible for the opponent to come by (it may exist, but not be at his disposal, or it may be something which is known to be safely destroyed or withheld, such as a murder weapon). In order to completely avoid discussing issues may require you to categorically deny and be critical of media or books as valid sources, deny that witnesses are acceptable, or even deny that statements made by government or other authorities have any meaning or relevance.
Example: “All he’s done is to quote the liberal media and a bunch of witnesses who aren’t qualified. Where’s his proof? Show me wreckage from flight 800 that shows a missile hit it!”
Proper response: You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. You presume for us not to accept Don Phillips, reporter for the Washington Post, Al Baker, Craig Gordon or Liam Pleven, reporters for Newsday, Matthew Purdy or Matthew L. Wald, Don Van Natta Jr., reporters for the New York Times, or Pat Milton, wire reporter for the Associated Press – as being able to tell us anything useful about the facts in this matter.
Neither would you allow us to accept Robert E. Francis, Vice Chairman of the NTSB, Joseph Cantamessa Jr., Special Agent In Charge of the New York Office of the F.B.I., Dr. Charles Wetli, Suffolk County Medical Examiner, the Pathologist examining the bodies, nor unnamed Navy divers, crash investigators, or other cited officials, including Boeing Aircraft representatives a part of the crash investigative team – as a qualified party in this matter, and thus, dismisses this material out of hand. Good logic, – about as good as saying 150 eye witnesses aren’t qualified.
Only YOUR are qualified to tell us what to believe? Witnesses be damned? Radar tracks be damned? Satellite tracks be damned? Reporters be damned? Photographs be damned? Government statements be damned? Is there a pattern here?.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 19 – ignore proof presented, demand impossible proofs)?
False evidence. Whenever possible, introduce new facts or clues designed and manufactured to conflict with opponent presentations as useful tools to neutralize sensitive issues or impede resolution. This works best when the crime was designed with contingencies for the purpose, and the facts cannot be easily separated from the fabrications.
Example: Jack Ruby warned the Warren Commission that the white Russian separatists, the Solidarists, were involved in the assassination. This was a handy “confession”, since Jack and Earl were both on the same team in terms of the cover up, and since it is now known that Jack worked directly with CIA in the assassination.
Proper response: This one can be difficult to respond to unless you see it clearly, such as in the following example, where more is known today than earlier in time… You are avoiding the issue with disinformation tactics. Your information is known to have designed to side track this issue. As revealed by CIA operative Marita Lorenz under oath offered in court in E. Howard Hunt vs. Liberty Lobby, CIA operatives met with Jack Ruby in Dallas the night before the assassination of JFK to distribute guns and money. Clearly, Ruby was a coconspirator whose “Solidarist confession” was meant to sidetrack any serious investigation of the murder.
Why do you refuse to address the issues by use of such disinformation tactics (rule 20 – false evidence)?
Call a Grand Jury, Special Prosecutor, or other empowered investigative body. Subvert the (process) to your benefit and effectively neutralize all sensitive issues without open discussion. Once convened, the evidence and testimony are required to be secret when properly handled. For instance, if you own the prosecuting attorney, it can insure a Grand Jury hears no useful evidence and that the evidence is sealed an unavailable to subsequent investigators. Once a favorable verdict (usually, this technique is applied to find the guilty innocent, but it can also be used to obtain charges when seeking to frame a victim) is achieved, the matter can be considered officially closed.
Example: According to one OK bombing Grand Juror who violated the law to speak the truth, jurors were, contrary to law, denied the power of subpoena of witness of their choosing, denied the power of asking witnesses questions of their choosing, and relegated to hearing only evidence prosecution wished them to hear, evidence which clearly seemed fraudulent and intended to paint conclusions other than facts actually suggested.
Proper response: There is usually no adequate response to this tactic except to complain loudly at any sign of its application, particularly with respect to any possible cover up.
Manufacture a new truth. Create your own expert(s), group(s), author(s), leader(s) or influence existing ones willing to forge new ground via scientific, investigative, or social research or testimony which concludes favorably. In this way, if you must actually address issues, you can do so authoritatively.
Example: The False Memory Syndrome Foundation and American Family Foundation and American and Canadian Psychiatric Associations fall into this category, as their founding members and/or leadership include key persons associated with CIA Mind Control research. Not so curious, then, that (in a perhaps oversimplified explanation here) these organizations focus on, by means of their own “research findings”, that there is no such thing as Mind Control.
Proper response: Unless you are in a position to be well versed in the topic and know of the background and relationships involved in the opponent organization, you are well equipped to fight this tactic.
Create bigger distractions. If the above does not seem to be working to distract from sensitive issues, or to prevent unwanted media coverage of unstoppable events such as trials, create bigger news stories (or treat them as such) to distract the multitudes.
Example: To distract the public over the progress of a WTC bombing trial that seems to be uncovering nasty ties to the intelligence community, have an endless discussion of skaters whacking other skaters on the knee. To distract the public over the progress of the Waco trials that have the potential to reveal government sponsored murder, have an O.J. summer. To distract the public over an ever disintegrating McVeigh trial situation and the danger of exposing government involvements, come up with something else (any day now) to talk about – keeping in the sports theme, how about sports fans shooting referees and players during a game and the whole gun control thing?
Proper response: The best you can do is attempt to keep public debate and interest in the true issues alive and point out that the “news flap” or other evasive tactic serves the interests of your opponents.
Silence critics. If the above methods do not prevail, consider removing opponents from circulation by some definitive solution so that the need to address issues is removed entirely. This can be by their death, arrest and detention, blackmail or destruction of their character by release of blackmail information, or merely by proper intimidation with blackmail or other threats.
Example: As experienced by certain proponents of friendly fire theories with respect to flight 800 – send in FBI agents to intimidate and threaten that if they persisted further they would be subject to charges of aiding and abetting Iranian terrorists, of failing to register as a foreign agents, or any other trumped up charges. If this doesn’t work, you can always plant drugs and bust them.
Proper response: You have three defensive alternatives if you think yourself potential victim of this ploy. One is to stand and fight regardless. Another is to create for yourself an insurance policy which will point to your opponents in the event of any unpleasantness, a matter which requires superior intelligence information on your opponents and great care in execution to avoid dangerous pitfalls (see The Professional Paranoid by this author for suggestions on how this might be done).
The last alternative is to cave in or run (same thing).
Vanish. If you are a key holder of secrets or otherwise overly illuminated and you think the heat is getting too hot, to avoid the issues, vacate the kitchen.
Example: Do a Robert Vesco and retire to the Caribbean. If you don’t, somebody in your organization may choose to vanish you the way of Vince Foster or Ron Brown.
Proper response: You will likely not have a means to attack this method, except to focus on the vanishing in hopes of uncovering it was by foul play as part of a deliberate cover up.
Note: There are other ways to attack truth, but these listed are the most common, and others are likely derivatives of these. In the end, you can usually spot the professional disinfo players by one or more of seven distinct traits:
They never actually discuss issues head on or provide constructive input, generally avoiding citation of references or credentials. Rather, they merely imply this, that, and the other. Virtually everything about their presentation implies their authority and expert knowledge in the matter without any further justification for credibility.
They tend to pick and choose their opponents carefully, either applying the hit-and-run approach against mere commentators supportive of opponents, or focusing heavier attacks on key opponents who are known to directly address issues. Should a commentator become argumentative with any success, the focus will shift to include the commentator as well.
They tend to surface suddenly and somewhat coincidentally with a controversial topic with no clear prior record of participation in general discussion in the particular public arena. They likewise tend to vanish once the topic is no longer of general concern. They were likely directed or elected to be there for a reason, and vanish with the reason.
They tend to operate in self-congratulatory and complementary packs or teams. Of course, this can happen naturally in any public forum, but there will likely be an ongoing pattern of frequent exchanges of this sort where professionals are involved. Sometimes one of the players will infiltrate the opponent camp to become a source for straw man or other tactics designed to dilute opponent presentation strength.
Their disdain for “conspiracy theorists” and, usually, for those who in any way believe JFK was not killed by LHO. Ask yourself why, if they hold such disdain for conspiracy theorists, do they focus on defending a single topic discussed in a NG focusing on conspiracies? One might think they would either be trying to make fools of everyone on every topic, or simply ignore the group they hold in such disdain. Or, one might more rightly conclude they have an ulterior motive for their actions in going out of their way to focus as they do.
An odd kind of “artificial” emotionalism and an unusually thick skin – an ability to persevere and persist even in the face of overwhelming criticism and unacceptance. This likely stems from intelligence community training that, no matter how condemning the evidence, deny everything, and never become emotionally involved or reactive.
The net result for a disinfo artist is that emotions can seem artificial. Most people, if responding in anger, for instance, will express their animosity throughout their presentation. But disinfo types usually have trouble maintaining the “image” and are hot and cold with respect to emotions they pretend to have and the more calm or normal communications which are not emotional.
It’s just a job, and they often seem unable to “act their role in type” as well in a communications medium as they might be able in a real face-to-face conversation/confrontation. You might have outright rage and indignation one moment, ho-hum the next, and more anger later – an emotional yo-yo.
With respect to being thick-skinned, no amount of criticism will deter them from doing their job, and they will generally continue their old disinfo patterns without any adjustments to criticisms of how obvious it is that they play that game – where a more rational individual who truly cares what others think might seek to improve their communications style, substance, and so forth.
There is also a tendency to make mistakes which betray their true self/motives. This may stem from not really knowing their topic, or it may be somewhat ‘freudian’, so to speak, in that perhaps they really root for the side of truth deep within. I have noted that often, they will simply cite contradictory information which neutralizes itself and the author.
For instance, one such player claimed to be a Navy pilot, but blamed his poor communicating skills (spelling, grammar, incoherent style) on having only a grade-school education. I’m not aware of too many Navy pilots who don’t have a college degree.
Another claimed no knowledge of a particular topic/situation but later claimed first-hand knowledge of it.
I close with the first paragraph of the introduction to my book, Fatal Rebirth:
Truth cannot live on a diet of secrets, withering within entangled lies. Freedom cannot live on a diet of lies, surrendering to the veil of oppression. The human spirit cannot live on a diet of oppression, becoming subservient in the end to the will of evil. God, as truth incarnate, will not long let stand a world devoted to such evil.
Therefore, let us have the truth and freedom our spirits require… or let us die seeking these things, for without them, we shall surely and justly perish in an evil world.
There you have it folks. Let nothing hinder you in getting to and sharing the truth!
13 Responses to Internet TROLLS – what ARE these guys?
Michael Bailey says:
I make my living as a professional freelance writer. I can tell you quite soberly that operations such as described in this article do exist and most anyone who is writing for the web on a professional basis has been approached by people wanting to buy the very services mentioned in this article. If you know someone who is a web content author and works for several commonly known broker agents, ask them how many times they have been approached by outfits looking to pay for the type of work described in this article. It is common, it pays well and it is widespread.
Leonie Wynne says:
Thanks for this info. There are propagandists everywhere you look on the net. You have to be so careful what you read all the time. Now that I have this information at hand I will be a bit more vigilant in how they write. The best info I’ve read about these trolls was from “The Matrix Revealed” by Jon Rappoport.
Thanks again Dane
Elana Freeland says:
Dear Dane and others,
Thanks for posting this info and for posting Rose’s letter. Will you be posting the latest information on SuspiciousObservers? At first, I thought the brouhaha arising between SO and Dutchsinse was a flame war of ego proportions, but it has become obvious that the affiliations of SO are, well, suspicious. If you need the videos being posted at The CON Trail, let me or Rose know. (I am a member of her site.) It is important for people to make their own decision about SO, but to do so they need to know about his role in Eminence Entertainment Enterprises E3 LLC = Viral Video Marketing.
I am ashamed about this “man-hunting” by the chemtrail-movement.
Sorry if we have offended you “informer”, that is not our intent. That being said, I do not feel the same pity for people who have made it there job to confuse honest people that are trying to figure out what is going on with an issue of such gravity that it risks all life on earth, literally. Though not a word of the articles we have posted is mine, I understand the angst of the authors as these same people in question have spent years trying to muddy the truth about the critical issue of global geoengineering. They have spent years trying to discredit and demoralize honest people doing their best to get out the truth.
Thats how I see it.
In your opening statement on the above you said, “In desperation to the recent critical mass of chemtrail awakening, Jeremy has resorted to character assassinations.”
I’ve read Jay’s info, and his “character assassinations” you are criticizing seen quite tame to yours, of him.
(as seen above)
I wonder why you feel YOUR character assassination is right, and if it’s wrong, why would you engage in it yourself ?
I have taken a screenshot of my response here, so if you delete it….I have a copy.
Not a single word of what we posted came from me or anyone else that I know personally. We have just reposted what was already out there.
And by the way, do you really know all the completely false statements Mr. Reynolds has said about me? I have copies of these as well though I have not let it get in the way of my work. I was simply clear by the amount of articles surfacing on this subject that people have had enough. Again, not a word of these articles came from me.
Thanks for the great article! We’ve had Ross Marsden trolling in our group and had dealings with Mike Glynn. These people all seem to hang out in the Chemtrails in NZ thread on the Environment board on TradeMe http://www.trademe.co.nz/Community/MessageBoard/Messages.aspx?id=1258155&p=44&topic=30.
Jay Reynolds says:
I asked politely for you to stop this libel. You have not complied. You can expect a letter from my attorney.
Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Reynolds, but not a single word in anything we have posted about you is mine. All of it was already online as it was sent to us after it was posted on many other sites.
It seems there are many others out there that have had enough of you.
Welcome to freedom of speech, Mr. Reynolds.
I have some beautiful photo shopped images of the NZ Shill Ross Marsden which I’d love to post here but looks like there’s no option to do so.
Thanks for posting this – important info and very pleased to see someone has their eye on the Southern Hemisphere – such a rare treat!
We have had a few experiences with NZ Met Service’s Ross Marsden whose resume read Consulting meteorologist, part time crane driver? And grandfather.
I assured Marsden that I would make sure his grandchildren understood the role he played in this nightmare now before us.
One story that I particularly remember from Marsden was when the Christchurch earthquake happened, there was a three hour block of data missing which happened to be the block that included the first quake on September 4th 2010 at t 4.35am local time. Somehow the data from 3pm to 6pm was missing. I sent email after email to the met service to enquire where the data was. Stone cold silence… until a year later. It was mentioned on a blog and Marsden then answered me publically saying the satellites the data came from were down for maintenance at exactly the time of the quake. Isn’t that convenient Met Service?
This man trolls good sites like that of Clare Swinney Northland Chemtrail Watch. He doesn’t just troll her blogs – he all but stalks her. I don’t know how she tollerates him.
Most of the youtube followers wised up to him. He trolls under lots of alises but one is something like Zephyr ross .
Mike GLyn from Qantas is another you might like to look into. He made a stunning muck up trying to attack one of my members and got caught with his pants down. This one you want to know about because hes directly invovled in the airline industry. He jollies along with the likes of Mick West – Metabunk fame and blogs as TWCobra among other things. This was one of their goes at the chemtrail activists down under – they invovled a two bit journo to debunk and to make activists look like they were going to hurt pilots and planes.
Michael Glynn : Chairman Flight Operations Occupational Health and Safety Committee at Qantas
A330 captain at Qantas: Past
Vice-president at Australian and International Pilots Association
Training Captain at 38 Sqn RAAF
Education: Ingleburn High School