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Multimillion Dollar Crowdturfing Industry Growing Exponentially

Multimillion Dollar Crowdturfing Industry Growing Exponentially

December 13th, 2011Incredibly, laughably, this piece doesn't mention things like the U.S. Military's desire to develop persona management software or Team Themis (HBGary Federal, Palantir and Berico):
After having spent several months studying those emails and otherwise investigating the industry depicted therein, I have revealed my summary of a classified US intelligence programme known as Romas/COIN, as well as its upcoming replacement, known as Odyssey. The programme appears to allow for the large-scale monitoring of social networks by way of such things as natural language processing, semantic analysis, latent semantic indexing and IT intrusion. At the same time, it also entails the dissemination of some unknown degree of information to a given population through a variety of means without any hint that the actual source is US intelligence.
Via: Technology Review:
A trawl of Chinese crowdsourcing websiteswhere people can earn a few pennies for small jobs such as labeling imageshas uncovered a multimillion-dollar industry that pays hundreds of thousands of people to distort interactions in social networks and to post spam.
The report's authors, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, also found evidence that crowdsourcing sites in the U.S. are similarly dominated by ethically questionable jobs. They conclude that the rapid growth of this way of making money will make paid shills a serious security problem for websites and those who use them around the world. A paper describing their results is available on the Arxiv pre-print server.
Ben Zhao, an associate professor of computer science at UCSB (and a TR35 winner in 2006), started looking into the largely uncharted crowdsourcing industry in China after working closely with RenRen, a social network that is sometimes called the "Facebook of China," to track malicious activity on the site. Zhao was intrigued to see a lot of relatively sophisticated attempts to send spam and promote brands by users that appeared to be working with specific agendas.
When he and colleagues investigated the source of that activity, the team was surprised by what it found, says Zhao: "Evil crowdsourcing on a very large scale." Influencing public opinion with fake "grassroots" activity is known as astroturfing, leading Zhao to coin the term "crowdturfing," since it is done via large crowdsourcing sites.
Filippo Menczer, director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research at the University of Indiana, is working to develop systems to detect political astroturfing on Twitter. "It's already a hard thing to do, and probably it will get more difficult," he says, especially as crowdsourcing services become easier to use.
Menczer's group first built a system to detect political astroturfing in the run-up to the most recent midterm elections. It first identifies threads of political discussion circulating on Twitter, using hashtags, links, names, and sentences. Software trained to recognize both legitimate and astroturfing tweets then sifts fraudulent messages from that soup of political discussion, and even tracks their success in influencing real users.
That system was able to find automated accounts by sending carefully varying messages promoting certain political sites. But Menczer has always suspected they were missing an unknown amount of more subtle astroturfing campaigns. Looking at the origin of crowdsourced astroturfing provides another perspective, he says.
"The fact that there are websites almost dedicated to making it easy to hire people to do this is further evidence that this is happening," says Menczer, who is working to upgrade his astroturfing detection system to analyze discussion around next year's presidential elections.
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Posted in COINTELPRO, Covert Operations, Dictatorship, False Flag Operations,Perception Management, Social Engineering, Surveillance, Technology | Top Of Page

One Response to "Multimillion Dollar Crowdturfing Industry Growing Exponentially"

"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
It is time for the management team here at Deep Politics Forum to begin work on a new title signalling a new depth. I'll leave it to y'all, but here's what comes to my mind: it's a deeper level by a magnitude, and it involves a significant aspect that requires a neuroscientific bent or expertise. Here's the operative thesis:

1) People, sociology, governance, politics, a forum for exchange... all derive from experiential and sensory intake, at least until recently...

2) Understanding the above at a level where one can influence it requires a breadth of cognitive, intellectual, sapient and -- recently -- information management expertise and knowledge;
#1 requires breadth; #2 requires depth.

3) Having an awareness of how the human mind's intake of information affects #1 has been the subject/focus of many an intelligence agency and government;

4) The medium for controllable intake is demonstrably the human eye, but also in terms of his or her diet of information;

5) It is a truism that

Our capacity for using attention

(the information we allow into our consciousness)

is, in fact, what determines

the content and quality

of our lives.

Attention is the most important tool

in the task of improving

the quality of our experience.

6) Therefore: Deep Politics Forum must be ...
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"

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