TekFog: BJP’s Cyber Weapon to Target Citizens

An online news portal The Wire recently published a three-part investigative report on a sophisticated secret app called TekFog. This is used by BJYM’s (the youth wing of the BJP) IT Cell to automate its online hate campaigns. According to the investigation, the app can “hijack” WhatsApp accounts of people without their knowledge or consent and use these accounts in automated campaigns. These campaigns send hate messages on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and even morph URLs of real news stories to redirect the readers to fake news stories.

It has been well known that BJP had invested huge sums of money in building a vast online social media troll army that it uses to spread its divisive misinformation campaigns and troll and abuse voices opposed to the BJP and the Modi government. What is new about these revelations is the sophistication of the tools at their disposal, hacking of WhatsApp

— source newsclick.in | Bappa Sinha | 05 Feb 2022

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Facebook promised poor countries free internet, but

Facebook says it’s helping millions of the world’s poorest people get online through apps and services that allow them to use internet data free. Internal company documents show that many of these people end up being charged in amounts that collectively add up to an estimated millions of dollars a month.

To attract new users, Facebook (FB) made deals with cellular carriers in countries including Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines to let low-income earners use a limited version of Facebook and browse some other websites without data charges. Many of the users have inexpensive cellphone plans that cost just a few dollars a month, often prepaid, for service and a small amount of internet data.

Because of software problems at Facebook, which it has known about and failed to correct for months, people using the apps in free mode are getting unexpectedly charged by local

— source business-standard.com | Jan 25, 2022

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Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group

Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes

Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings.

In one exchange, group members responded with indifference and wisecracks to the post of a news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. One member posted a GIF of Elmo with the quote, “Oh well.” Another responded with an image and the words “If he dies, he dies.”

— source propublica.org | A.C. Thompson ‌| Jul 1, 2019

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Meta, Google grilled over misinformation and cyberbullying, Twitter next

An Australian government committee on Thursday grilled Meta (formerly Facebook) and Google about the spread of misinformation and cyberbullying across their platforms. Google’s director of government affairs and public policy, Lucinda Longcroft, was asked by the committee about misleading Covid-19 information on YouTube, and was specifically shown at least nine United Australia Party (UAP) ads containing Covid misinformation. Twitter was set to appear before the committee on Friday.

Meta representatives also appeared before the committee and were grilled about the death and rape threats directed towards Australian presenter Erin Molan and her young daughter on Facebook. Molan had testified earlier that she submitted a request on Facebook for those threats to be removed from the platform. “In response to the request, Facebook sent an automated response that the content would remain online”.

— source cio.economictimes.indiatimes.com | Jan 20, 2022

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How Israel’s ‘Facebook Law’ Plans to Control All Palestinian Content Online

It is ironic that even former right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had rejected a Knesset (Israeli Parliament) bill which proposed to give the government greater power to control and suppress online content. This was in 2016, and the bill was introduced by Netanyahu’s Likud party rival, Gideon Sa’ar.

Some analysts argued that Netanyahu had feared that a law aimed at suppressing Palestinian freedom of speech online could be exploited by his enemies to control his own speech and incitement. Now that Netanyahu is no longer in the picture, the bill is back, and so is Sa’ar.

Gideon Sa’ar is currently Israel’s justice minister and deputy prime minister. While his boss, Naftali Bennett, is moving rapidly to expand settlements and to worsen already horrific realities for Palestinians on the ground, Sa’ar is expanding the Israeli military occupation of Palestinians to the digital realm. What is known as the ‘Facebook Law’ is set to grant “Israeli courts the power to demand the removal of user-generated content on social media content platforms that can be perceived as inflammatory or as harming

— source palestinechronicle.com | Ramzy Baroud | Jan 22, 2022

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We must challenge Mark Zuckerberg’s Ring of power

Learning to appreciate that control is an illusion is hard, especially when we are prepared to sacrifice almost everything, to pay any price, to control others. But if we are to stop others—Mark Zuckerberg, for example—from controlling us, it is a lesson we must learn.
Once upon a time, in the ancient kingdom of Lydia, a shepherd called Gyges found a magic ring, which, when rotated on his finger, made him invisible. So, Gyges walked unseen into the royal palace, seduced the queen, murdered the king, and installed himself as ruler. If you were to discover such a ring or another device that granted you exorbitant power, Socrates asked, would it be wise to use it to do or get whatever you want?
Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement of some fabulous digital metaverse awaiting humanity gives new pertinence to Socrates’ answer: People should renounce excessive power and, in particular, any device capable of granting too many of our wishes.
Was Socrates right? Would reasonable people renounce the ring? Should they?
Socrates’ own disciples were not convinced. Plato reports that they expected almost everyone to succumb to the temptation, pretty much as Gyges had. But could this be because

— source yanisvaroufakis.eu | Yanis Varoufakis | 26/01/2022

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Hijacking WhatsApp to Drive BJP Propaganda

Technology developed and deployed by political operatives working to further the interests of India’s ruling party appears to have given them the ability to add script to the URLs of published news stories at mainstream platforms in order to redirect unsuspecting readers to fake news and also hack into and take over WhatsApp accounts, potentially exposing millions of Indians to the risk of identity theft.

Since the aim of the exercise is to use inactive hacked accounts to seed disinformation and fake news, vulnerable WhatsApp users also face potential legal liability in the event that criminal cases are filed relating to objectionable content simulated as emanating from their phone numbers.

Last week, The Wire published the first part of its 20-month-long investigation into the secret ‘Tek Fog’ app being used by cyber operatives to manipulate social media trends in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and target critics of the Narendra Modi government.

— source thewire.in | Ayushman Kaul, Devesh Kumar | 10 Jan 2022

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Facebook Hosted Surge of Misinformation in Months Leading Up to US Capitol Attack

January 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, with many calling for executions or other political violence, an investigation by ProPublica and the Washington Post has found.

The barrage – averaging at least 10,000 posts a day, a scale not reported previously – turned the groups into incubators for the baseless claims supporters of then-President Donald Trump voiced as they stormed the Capitol, demanding he get a second term. Many posts portrayed Biden’s election as the result of widespread fraud that required extraordinary action – including the use of force – to prevent the nation from falling into the hands of traitors.


Another post, made 10 days after the election, bore the avatar of a smiling woman with her arms raised in apparent triumph and read, “WE ARE AMERICANS!!! WE FOUGHT AND DIED TO START OUR COUNTRY! WE ARE GOING TO FIGHT…FIGHT LIKE HELL. WE WILL SAVE HER❤ THEN WERE GOING TO SHOOT THE TRAITORS!!!!!!!!!!!”

One post showed a Civil War-era picture of a gallows with more than two dozen nooses and hooded figures waiting to be hanged. Other posts called for arrests and executions of

— source thewire.in | Craig Silverman, Craig Timberg, Jeff Kao, Jeremy B. Merrill | 06/Jan/2022

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Fake Social Media Accounts Against Farmer’s Protests

Even after the Narendra Modi-led government announced that the three controversial agri-marketing Bills will be withdrawn in the next session of the parliament, the farmers’ protests continue.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the governing body of the movement, says that the withdrawal of the three laws is only an acceptance of half of their charter of demands. Therefore, protests shall continue, they said in an open letter to the prime minister earlier this week.

Furthermore, supporters of the movement say that a year-long vilification of the movement by ministers in the government, and the ‘murders’ of over 700 farmers, are hard to forgive and forget.

In this backdrop, a report has been released by a UK-based organisation – Centre For Information Resilience (CIR) – which has revealed that fake social media accounts were being run on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to run a divisive propaganda against Sikhs and discredit the struggle of a majority of farmers in the ongoing stir.

“We will continue to monitor accounts associated with the patterns”

The CIR report is authored by Benjamin Strick, who is a digital investigator. He specialises in open source intelligence, geospatial intelligence and data analysis, and has a background in the military and law.

— source thewire.in | Pawanjot Kaur | 28/Nov/2021

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10 fringe publishers fuel 69% of digital climate change denial

The science is undeniable – human activity is warming our planet at an ever-accelerating rate and leading to catastrophic climate change.

Yet, ten publishers – The Toxic Ten – are spreading baseless, unscientific climate denial on their own websites and across social media. They are responsible for 69% of all interactions with climate denial content on Facebook.

It’s a climate denial propaganda machine funded in part by Google via ad revenue, and spread across the world via social media, in particular Facebook, who allow them to pay to promote their denial.

We are calling on Facebook and Google to stop promoting and funding climate denial, start labelling it as misinformation, and stop giving the advantages of their enormous platforms to lies and misinformation.

Click to access f4d9b9_277d4dc5f1f84858a6a2dc149f00b759.pdf

— source counterhate.com | Nov 3, 2021

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