Hatemail 2020-09-10: Disinformation from the White House to Russia 

Newsletter and intel from the LaBac Hacker Collective

A note from us hackers at LaBac: This week is our first edition on Substack, after hosting our previous newsletters on TinyLetter. Not only has TinyLetter’s parent company, Mailchimp, long vilified community works that we know and love, but we ourselves have had our own problems with publishing. When we were suspended from posting our newsletter some weeks ago, TinyLetter’s response was that our newsletter was flagged by their “automated content moderation” system. The irony was not lost on us. 

Substack seems like a proper publishing platform for now, but do give us feedback if this week’s edition didn’t end up in your inbox the way it typically does. Copies of our previous newsletters will remain at tinyletter.com/labac until we find a better way to archive it. Thanks!

Thursday, Sep 17, 2020 - Data & Society presents an online talk with historian Jill Lepore, who will discuss her new book If Then, a story of “trying to understand human behavior via algorithm, and the corrosive consequences of trying to hack democracy.” [Data & Society]

Disinformation and Misinformation from the White House to Russia 

  • [CNBC] [New York Times] Yesterday news broke that a whistleblower (the former head of the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence division, to be precise) is alleging that top political appointees at the agency had career officials modify intelligence assessments in favor of Trump’s political interests. Such changes included downplaying threats from white supremacists and Russian interference in U.S. elections. 

  • [CNN] [The Daily Beast] Last week, we highlighted reports that U.S.-based journalists were pulled into a Russian-backed disinformation campaign via a fake news outlet known as Peace Data. Since then, unknowing writers (Jacinda Chan and Jack Delaney) who were recruited to write for the fake outlet have come forward about how the scheme has impacted their lives and their livelihoods.   

  • [HuffPost] Far-right Twitter personalities, such as Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, got caught up last week in a story about 39 children supposedly rescued in a sex trafficking bust. Turns out the story is much more complicated — and, as Michael Hobbes makes clear in his reporting for HuffPost, far-right appropriations of tragic stories can derail real conversations about violence against children.

  • [Google Jigsaw]Coordinated disinformation campaigns are more likely to thrive when they go unnoticed and unchecked.” We’re interested in this interactive data visualizer that presents targeted research on coordinated disinformation campaigns across the world. 

At the Growing Intersection of Justice and Technology...

  • [Associated Press] Mainstream internet services and social media platforms have taken new measures to ban accounts linked to anti-government extremists and white supremacists, but the recent shooting in Kenosha (and its ties to social media) indicate users are working around these bans. 

  • [Tampa Bay Times] Chris Nocco, sheriff of Pasco County, Florida, entered office in 2011 with plans to implement an intelligence program that he claimed could make predictions about crime before it happened. Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the county intelligence program has largely proven to be a harassment operation that monitors residents and compiles problematic lists of people that the Sheriff’s Office considers likely to break the law. 

  • [The Verge] Current U.S. immigration video hearings are the result of nearly three decades of experimentation with televideo trials. In the midst of a global pandemic and a relentlessly anti-immigrant administration, remote video hearings continue to perpetuate the dehumanization of detained migrants while video chat software companies make a profit. 

On Our Radar…

  • [Reuters] On Tuesday China announced an initiative to develop global data security standards in light of recent political tensions in the industry. “Some individual countries are aggressively pursuing unilateralism,” said Chinese diplomat Wang Yi. “This is naked bullying and should be opposed and rejected." China’s initiative comes after the U.S. introduced The Clean Network effort last month. 

  • [The Verge] Former National Security Agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander is joining Amazon’s board of directors. Alexander, who retired from public service in 2013, remains a controversial figure due to the extensive surveillance systems built and maintained during his tenure (and which were eventually revealed by the Edward Snowden leaks). 

  • [Stanford] Check out this recent report by the Stanford Cyber Policy Center on Facebook takedowns of content linked to the U.S.-based communications firm CLS Strategies for engaging inauthentic activities focused on Venezuela, Mexico and Bolivia.

Hate speech website: Three Percenters

Who hosts: Liquid Web LLC, A2 Hosting Inc

Today’s site is thethreepercenters[.]org the primary recruitment website for the Three Percenters. Three Percenters are a far-right militia and paramilitary force, with members throughout the United States. Self-identifying “3%ers” make little effort to disguise their nexus with white supremacists and far-right violence

Their site is spread across multiple hosting services, including Liquid Web LLC (67.227.234[.]13), A2 Hosting Inc. (68.66.197[.]113).