The document claims to reveal the techniques — dirty tricks, really — that are practiced by trolls, saboteurs, provocateurs, disinformants, spies and other government operatives, as well as their fellow practitioners of the dark arts.
One thing is certain: we’ve all experienced the frustration of dealing with this phenomenon. We just don’t always recognize it for what it is.
Without even knowing it, you may have witnessed these techniques in action. Perhaps in a political forum that feels somehow manipulated to suppress certain facts and points of view. Or in the deceptive comments that often follow a controversial article. Or in the disruptive behavior at a town hall meeting that seems oddly choreographed. Or at a meeting of activists where the “wrong” people seem to be taking over.
Like toxic mushrooms, the words and actions of these operatives can look harmless. That is why they can so easily poison the well of information.
You may be tempted to write off trolls as harmless nuts, but that may not be the case at all. We know from experience that some of the less harmful techniques described here are a cousin of a PR tactic called “astroturfing,” a tried and true method of some of the most powerful corporations and private interests in America. It is a classic control technique, wielded by those on top to prevent “inconvenient” facts from reaching the public, and to neutralize any action the public may want to take should they learn of these facts.
You are most likely to see these techniques at work where discussion centers on such high-stakes issues as political assassinations, the destruction of land and lives by oil companies and other corporations, the man-made causes of climate change, and so on.
Before we get to the tricks themselves, we should take a quick look at their origins.
Treachery is as old as mankind, but let’s start with the late J. Edgar Hoover, the old trickster behind the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program, also known as COINTELPRO.
According to www.publiceye.org
, Cointelpro was designed to “increase factionalism, cause disruption and win defections” inside the Communist Party U.S.A…. disruption of the Socialist Workers Party (1961), the Ku Klux Klan (1964), Black nationalist groups such as the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam (1967), and the entire New Left, including community and religious groups (1968).”
The US Senate’s so-called Church Committee (chaired by Sen. Frank Church of Idaho), which investigated Cointelpro, reported, “Bureau witnesses admit that many of the targets were nonviolent and most had no connections with a foreign power.” Such targets included nonviolent citizens against the war in Vietnam, the nonviolent Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and prominent civil rights workers.
The FBI claims Cointelpro operations ended in 1971.
Did they? The Internet did not exist during the period the FBI admits Cointelpro was active, but the author labels the methods described below as “Cointelpro Techniques.” Wherever they came from, they are still clearly in use. (As many of our readers probably know, other alphabet agencies use these techniques, and have greatly expanded upon them.)
Part 1 is about methods for taking control of a news group. These instructions were presumably written by a Cointelpro operative to be used by other operatives — and not the general public, so they are not always clear. We have therefore rewritten some of these passages, and we offer explanations parenthetically when we think they are needed. Wherever possible, we try to preserve the style of the original document.
If you have a better explanation for any of the actions described below, or if you want to add your own observations to this ongoing collection, please let us know. We would love to hear from you.
The bottom line: Our purpose here is to inform you about some of the “dirty tricks” that may be shaping and distorting what you read online. Far from endorsing these attempts to hijack free and open discourse, we believe that exposing them can help blunt their power to confuse and control. Forewarned is forearmed.
Note to readers: The following is the text found on the Internet, as discussed above. The source and background are unknown.
Cointelpro Techniques for Control of an Internet Forum
There are several techniques for the control and manipulation of an internet forum. Most involve dilution and misdirection. We will go over each technique and demonstrate that even a minimal number of operatives can eventually gain control of an “uncontrolled forum.”
If a very sensitive posting of a critical nature has been posted on a forum, it can be quickly removed from public view by “forum sliding.” This maneuver brings unrelated postings to the top of the forum, and the critical posting “slides” down the front page — out of public view. [Ed.: By“sensitive posting of a critical nature”, the author refers to comments that include facts that interfere with the false narrative being promoted.]
In this technique a number of harmless posts are quietly pre-positioned on the forum and allowed to “age.” This is done in anticipation of troublesome postings. Each of these misdirectional forum postings can then be called upon to trigger a “forum slide.”
Several fake accounts should be ready when called upon. To trigger a “forum slide” and “flush” the critical post out of public view, it is simply a matter of logging into each account, both real and fake, and then ”replying” to pre-positioned postings with a simple one- or two-line comment.
Although it is difficult or impossible to censor the unwanted posting, it is now lost in a sea of unrelated and useless postings. This effectively focuses the attention of forum readers on non-issue items.
Inoculating the Public Against the Truth
A second highly effective technique is what we call “consensus cracking.”
Here’s how we develop a consensus crack: Under the guise of a fake account, a posting is made which looks legitimate — but the critical point is that it has very weak back-up. [Ed.: We assume this counterfeit posting contains some of the same points being made by those attempting to reveal the truth, but in a weaker form. Think of it as an “inoculation.” ]
Once this is done, then, under alternative fake accounts, a very strong position in your favor [Ed.:“your” meaning the disinformant’s favor] is slowly introduced over the life of the posting.
It is imperative that both sides are initially presented, so that uninformed readers cannot determine which side is the truth — but assume they have seen all the relevant facts on both sides of the issue.
As postings and replies are made, the stronger “evidence” or disinformation in your favor is slowly “seeded in.”
Thus, uninformed readers will most likely accept the disinformation. But even if they don’t, they will probably drop their opposition to your posting.
However in some cases where the forum members are highly educated and can counter your disinformation with real facts and linked postings, you can then “abort” the consensus cracking by initiating a “forum slide.”
Turning a News Group into a Gossip Corner
Topic dilution is not only effective in forum sliding it is also very useful in keeping the forum readers on unrelated and non-productive issues. This is a critical and useful technique to cause a “resource burn.”
By implementing continuous irrelevant postings that distract and disrupt the forum readers, they are effectively prevented from being productive. If the intensity of gradual dilution is great enough, the readers will stop researching and simply slip into a “gossip mode.”
In this state, they can be more easily misdirected away from facts. The less informed they are, the easier it is to control the entire group in the direction you desire.
It must be stressed that a proper assessment of the psychological characteristics and levels of education of the group are first determined. You don’t want to “drive in the wedge” too soon. By being too far off topic too quickly it may trigger censorship by a forum moderator.
Collecting Information on Forum Members
This is about determining the psychological level of the forum members, and to gather intelligence that can be used against them. In this technique, a light and positive environment is created, leading to “I’ll show you mine, you show me yours” postings. From the number of replies and the answers that are provided, much information can be gathered.
For example, posing as one of the forum members, post your “favorite weapon” and then encourage others to showcase theirs. It can then be determined what percentage of the forum community owns a firearm, and/or illegal weapon.
Or, post your favorite “technique of operation.” From the replies, methods used by the group can be studied, and effective methods developed to stop them from their activities.
Identifying Violent Forum Members
Statistically, there is always a percentage of forum posters who are inclined to violence. In order to determine who these individuals are, you present an image that will incite a strong psychological reaction.
For example, post a link to a video depicting a local police officer grossly abusing his power against a very innocent individual. Statistically, of the million or so police officers in America there is always one or two being caught abusing their powers, and the taping of the activity can be then used for intelligence gathering purposes — without having to stage a fake abuse video. [Ed.: Interesting choices of word in this paragraph. “One or two” being caught? We know these instructions were written before so many instances of abuse were recorded. Maybe the emphasis was on “being caught.”]
This method is extremely effective, and more so if the police officer can be made to look even more abusive, by the way the video is introduced, and by selective editing.
Sometimes it is useful to “lead” the forum by replying to your own posting with your own statement of violent intent — that you “do not care what the authorities think!”
Showing no fear may get those forum members who are more silent and self-disciplined to slip — and post their real intentions. From this, the most violent in the group can be effectively singled out for reverse IP location and possibly local law enforcement tracking. And his or her posting can be used later in a court of law during prosecution.
Gaining Full Control
It is important to continuously maneuver for a forum moderator position. Once this position is obtained, the forum can then be effectively and quietly controlled by deleting unfavorable postings — and one can eventually steer the forum into complete failure and lack of interest by the general public.This is the “ultimate victory.”
Depending on the level of control you obtain, you can deliberately steer a forum into defeat by
censoring postings, deleting memberships, flooding, or “accidentally” taking the forum offline. By this method the forum can be killed.
However it is not always in the interest to kill a forum as it can be converted into a “honey pot” gathering center to collect and misdirect newcomers and, from this point, be completely used for your control for your agenda purposes.
Remember: these techniques are only effective if the forum participants do not know about them
Once they are aware of these techniques the operation can completely fail, and the forum can become uncontrolled. At this point other avenues must be considered such as initiating a false legal precedence to simply have the forum shut down and taken offline.
This is not desirable as it then leaves the enforcement agencies unable to track the percentage of those in the population who always resist attempts for control against them.
Many other techniques can be utilized and developed by the individual and as you develop further techniques of infiltration and control it is imperative to share them with HQ.
Avoid, Avoid, Avoid
Avoid discussing issues head-on. Rather, get your point across by implying it. Avoid the subject of proof or references documenting your own position.
Deny, Deny, Deny
No matter what evidence is offered, deny it has any relevance, credibility, proof, or logic. No matter what expert is named, deny his or her authority. Deny that statements made by government or other authorities have any meaning or relevance. Deny that witnesses are reliable. Cite studies on eyewitness credibility.
Present False Evidence
Whenever possible, manufacture new “facts” to conflict with opponent presentations.
Associate yourself with authority, but avoid specifically discussing your credentials, while implying your authority and expertise. Present your argument with “jargon” and “minutiae” to illustrate you are “one who knows.” Then simply dismiss your opponent’s comments without demonstrating concretely why or citing sources.
Quote Anti-Conspiracy Experts
Depending on the situation, you may find it useful to point out that people have a psychological need to believe in conspiracy. A number of people — psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, and journalists — have written books and articles on this theme. And some even have shown that humans are hard-wired to find connections between events that do not exist. You should familiarize yourself with this literature, and have a ready arsenal of quotes to post.
Fit Facts to Suit Alternate Conclusions
Think like the attorney who manages to make someone else look guilty of the crime his client is charged with — using the same evidence.
Label it a “Wild Rumor”
Avoid discussing issues by describing all charges, regardless of evidence, as mere rumors and wild accusations. If you can associate the material with the Internet, use this fact to certify it a ”wild rumor.”
Change the Subject
Find a way to sidetrack 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.
Demand Impossible Proof
No matter what evidence is presented, raise the bar. Demand the kind of proof that is impossible for the opponent to come by.
Demand Complete Solutions
Avoid issues by requiring opponents to solve every detail of the issue.
Label it “An Enigma with 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 people to lose interest.
Grasp at Straw Men
Select the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Amplify their significance and destroy them in a way that appears to debunk all the charges, while actually avoiding discussion of the real issues.
Focus on side issues which can be used to suggest your opponent is critical of some sacrosanct group or theme. This is also known as the “How dare you!” gambit. For example, if your opponent criticizes the Israeli government, call him or her an “antisemite.”
Hit and Run
Briefly attack your opponent — 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 to make new accusations — and never answer any subsequent response.
Taunt your opponents. Draw them into emotional responses. Make them lose their cool and become less coherent. Then focus on how “sensitive they are to criticism.”
Twist or amplify any fact which could be used to imply your opponent operates out of a hidden agenda or bias. This avoids discussing issues and forces the accuser on the defensive.
Shoot the Messenger
Label your opponents “kooks,” “right-wing,” “liberal,” “left-wing,” “terrorists,” “conspiracy buffs,” “radicals,” “militias,” “racists,” “religious fanatics,” “sexual deviants,” and so forth. This makes others shrink from supporting you out of fear of gaining the same label.
Play the Victim
Select a minor error of your own that was among many, larger problems pointed out by your opponent. Then take the “high road and “confess” your “honest mistake, discovered in hindsight.” Blame it on bad sources. Then accuse your opponent of blowing it all out of proportion and implying worse things which “just aren’t so.” Later, others can reinforce this on your behalf, and “call for an end to the nonsense.” You have already “done the right thing.” This can garner respect, even sympathy, for “’owning up” to your mistake. And in the meantime, all of your opponent’s proof of the more serious issues will be discarded. People will be tired of the subject and will want to move on.
Dirtiest Trick of All, So Far
There is yet another tactic that seems to be in widespread use in forums on the JFK assassination, and it is the ultimate con: Disinformants earn trust by establishing themselves as conspiracy theorists. They often “prove” it by recycling, then repackaging, the stolen work of others. (Since the information is already out there in the ether, they are not really damaging the cover-up.) Or they may present a new theory,one that sounds good but is actually nonsense.
Once established, they abuse this undeserved trust in many ways, including the following: (a) they discredit the work of real researchers, mostly on their say so, rather than providing proof; (b) they attack the reliability of critical eye-witnesses; and (c) they support key points of the official narrative — points not related to their “own” work. For example, while presenting a theory on JFK’s head wound, they may parenthetically slip in support for the single bullet theory, an issue that does not involve the head.
Many of these people are depressingly mediocre in intellect, and are not very good at what they do in any arena. Their dirty work in the JFK arena is also not very good, and frequently arouses suspicion in other researchers, and even in members of the general public. Often, they contrast themselves with those who openly defend the official story, using the tactics described above. They say, “I’m not a spook. That’s a spook!” And they fiercely support each other, using their large numbers to gang up on their accusers, trying to intimidate them, or to just exhaust them with endless confrontation. In the forums they control, they will have the last word. Fortunately, those who have the last word do not necessarily inspire the last thought.
The FBI establishes phony activist organizations, then penetrates them with its own agents, police informants and infiltrators. Their purpose is to prevent any real movement for justice or ecopeace from developing.
The way to neutralize potential activists is to get them into a group that does all the wrong things. This way, a lot of time is wasted, the activists become frustrated and discouraged, they accomplish nothing and, most important — their message doesn’t get out.
Legitimate activists do not subject people to hours of persuasive dialog. Their actions, beliefs, and goals speak for themselves. Groups that do recruit are missionaries, the military — and fake political parties or movements set up by agents.
Agents come in small, medium or large. They can be of any ethnic background. They can be male or female.
The actual size of the group or movement being infiltrated is irrelevant. It is the potential that the movement has for becoming large which brings on the spies and saboteurs.
Good agents will want to meet as often as possible. They will talk a lot and say little. One can expect an onslaught of long, unresolved discussions. It is the agent’s job to keep activists from quitting such a group, thus keeping them under control.
This report lists some of the tactics agents use to slow things down, foul things up, destroy the movement — and keep tabs on activists. If you are an activist, always assume that you are under surveillance.
This report in no way covers all the ways agents use to sabotage the lives of sincere and dedicated activists.
Agents begin relationships behind a well developed mask of “dedication to the cause.” They often declare this dedication, and engage in actions designed to prove it — or appear to prove it.
It’s amazing how far agents can go in manipulating an activist. As long as the agents regularly declare their dedication to the cause, activists will constantly make excuses for anything they do that may seem counterproductive, or even suspicious. And if they do occasionally suspect the agent, they will pull the wool over their own eyes by rationalizing: “They sincerely thought it would help to do that… I’m just slow to understand why that would be a good idea… there’s an innocent explanation for that… I’m just being paranoid.”
Control by Flattery
A favorite ploy of the agent is to privately tell an activist, “You’re a natural leader.” No matter how meek, the person will believe it. The fact is, the movement doesn’t need leaders, it needs movers.
Control By Guilt
In those situations where an activist doesn’t want to go along with a course of action being promoted by the agent, the agent will tell the activist: ”You’re dividing the movement.”
This invites guilty feelings. Those who are truly dedicated are easy to convince that, somehow, any problems are their fault. This is because many dedicated people are naive, and tend to believe that everyone has a conscience and that nobody would dissimulate and lie “on purpose.” So, they tell themselves “He [or she, the agent] must be right… I really am dividing the movement… I’d better go along.”
Control By “Malignant Pseudo-Identification”
This technique is designed to enhance and exploit the activist’s self-esteem. Their narcissistic admiration of their own altruistic intentions increases as they identify with apparently similar intentions of the agent — which are deliberately set up to mirror those of the activist. This is known as “malignant pseudo-identification.”
It is the process by which the agent consciously imitates or simulates a certain behavior to foster the activist’s identification with him/her, thus increasing the activist’s vulnerability to manipulation.
On a more subtle level, the agent will simulate the style, mannerisms, and outer manifestations of the activist’s philosophy. For example, wearing their hair long, or dressing like a “hippie.”
This promotes identification via mirroring and feelings of “twinship.”
Activists are most vulnerable to malignant pseudo-identification while working with the agent, when matters relating to their competency, autonomy, or knowledge are tested. The agent will compliment the activist for all of these qualities, and praise their value to the movement. This in turn will increase the activist’s general empathy for the agent. And they will project their own dedication to the movement onto the agent who is “mirroring” them.
Activists who deny their own narcissistic investments are exceedingly vulnerable to the affective (emotional) simulation of the accomplished agent.
Empathy is fostered in the activist through the expression of quite visible affects. [Ed.: Not to be confused with effects.] The presentation of tearfulness, sadness, longing, fear, remorse, and guilt, may induce in the helper-oriented activist a strong sense of compassion, while unconsciously enhancing the activist’s narcissistic investment in self as the embodiment of goodness.
It is not unheard of for activists — enamored by the perceived helpfulness and competence of a good agent — to find themselves considering ethical violations and perhaps, even illegal behavior, in the service of their agent/handler.
The agent’s expression of such simulated manifestations of emotion may be quite compelling to the observer and difficult to distinguish from deep emotion.
But this lack of sincerity is usually unmasked when the agent notices the activist is not responding as predicted, and reacts inappropriately. This can happen when activists have analyzed their own narcissistic roots and are aware of their own potential for being “emotionally hooked.” They remain cool and unaffected by such emotional outpourings by the agent.
As a result of this unaffected, cool attitude, the agent will compensate much too quickly, leaving the activist with the impression that “the play has ended, the curtain has fallen,” and the imposture, for the moment, has finished.
The agent will then move quickly to the next victim.
Some agents take on a pushy, arrogant, or intimidating manner. They will disrupt the agenda; sidetrack the discussion; interrupt repeatedly; make unfounded accusations, calling someone a racist, for example. This tactic is used to discredit a person in the eyes of all other group members.
Activities of the Saboteur
1. Writes encyclopedic flyers (in the present day, websites)
2. Prints flyers in English only.
3. Has demonstrations in places where no one cares.
4. Solicits funding from rich people instead of grass roots support
5. Displays poorly-worded, confusing banners
6. Compromises the goal.
7. Encourages endless discussions to waste everyone’s time. May accompany the discussions with drinking, pot smoking or other amusements to slow down the activist’s work.
8. Tries to persuade disaffected or minimally committed fellow activists to turn against the movement — and give false testimony against their compatriots.
9. Plants illegal substances on the activist and sets up an arrest.
10. Plants false information and sets up “exposure.”
11. Sends incriminating letters [emails] in the name of the activist.
Activities of the Provocateur
1. Establishes “leaders” to set them up for a fall.
2. Suggests doing foolish, illegal things to get the group in trouble.
3. Encourages militancy.
4. Encourages taunting of the authorities.
5. Tries to get activists to compromise their values.
6. Attempts to instigate violence.
7. Attempts to provoke revolt among people who are ill-prepared to deal with the reaction of the authorities to such violence.
Activities of the Informant
1. Gets everyone to sign up, sign in, sign all kinds of things.
2. Asks a lot of questions about a member’s personal, scholastic, and professional life.
3. Is always on the lookout for leverage for purposes of blackmail later.
4. Tries to determine what events the activist is planning to attend.
5. Attempts to make activists defend themselves in order to identify their beliefs, goals, and level of commitment.
COINTELPRO is still in operation today under a different code name. It is no longer placed on paper where it can be discovered through the Freedom of Information Act.
The FBI counterintelligence program’s stated purpose: To expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and otherwise neutralize individuals who the FBI categorizes as opposed to the National Interests. “National Security” means the FBI’s security from the people ever finding out the vicious things it does in violation of people’s civil liberties.