Trolls

'Hacktivist' Hysteria in Baltimore

The debunked #BaltimoreLootCrew tweets find a new way to feed fearmongering.

|

I'm all for debunking social-media memes and telling people not to believe everything they read. But this Baltimore Sun piece takes a kind of weird approach to it:

Some people found this credible.

After riots overtook West Baltimore on Monday, a hashtag began to appear on Twitter and other social media—#BALTIMORELOOTCREW—linking together posts that depicted pilfered prescription drugs and demolished store shelves.

But that "crew" was not actually in Baltimore protesting the death of Freddie Gray, according to a local cybersecurity company. Many photos shared using that label, and others, were taken years ago, and often not even in the United States, employees at Federal Hill-based ZeroFox found.

Bad actors and so-called "hacktivists" descended on Baltimore—electronically, at least—this past week, flooding social media with automated accounts and inauthentic images, said James C. Foster, CEO of the social media risk management firm. Law enforcement and cybersecurity experts said such barrages increasingly target areas of unrest around the world, spurring violence and challenging efforts to contain it.

"There's a global reach now where they don't have to be here to further instigate it," Foster said.

Note the outside-agitator framing, in which Twitter trolls are presented as "hacktivists" who "instigate" violence around the world. In the second-to-last paragraph of the story, we're finally informed that "there was no proof that such misinformation led to any specific acts of violence."

More:

More like HERO Fox, amirite?

The company's specialty is rooting out cyber criminals lurking on social media. And when West Baltimore erupted in rioting Monday, its employees felt compelled to apply their skills. ZeroFox worked into the night tracing tweets and Facebook accounts that shared photos of looting and violence.

What they found was that much of the activity was coming from well outside of Baltimore, in some cases from Russia, China, India and the Middle East.

"I just killed a pig," wrote one tweet, showing a bloodied police officer slumped on the ground. Not only was the photo of an officer in South America, but the account sharing it was not in Baltimore.

I guess it's nice to know the highly skilled specialists at ZeroFox can do a reverse image search. But you really don't need to adopt such a spy-story tone to remind readers that the Internet is global or that trolls post faked or otherwise misleading photos during disasters and riots. Apparently, the people who pulled the #SandyLootCrew prank are still at it, or have inspired imitators. There's an interesting story to be written about that, but it won't read like an advertorial for a security firm.

Related: BuzzFeed gets trolled.

Advertisement

NEXT: Queen's University Belfast "to go ahead with Charlie Hebdo conference after outcry"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Law enforcement and cybersecurity experts said such barrages increasingly target areas of unrest around the world, spurring violence and challenging efforts to contain it.

    Once they trace it to the source, you just know it’s all going to be coming from the Trilateral Commission.

    1. I thought it was them Freemasons!!!!

      *adjust foil hat*

      1. We Masons don’t have time for such nonsense.

        Those silly Illuminati….

        *droll chuckle*

        1. It is definitely NOT the Lizardmen, so disregard any rumors you hear that say it is.

          1. That’s what Mr. Lizard told us, too, so…

            Heeeeeeeey! Wait a minute!

    2. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h? Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!……
      http://www.work-cash.com

  2. I guess it’s nice to know the highly skilled specialists at ZeroFox can do a reverse image search. But you really don’t need to adopt such a spy-story tone to remind readers that the Internet is global or that trolls post faked or otherwise misleading photos during disasters and riots.

    FEEL. THE. BURN.

  3. #Kony

  4. Who really gives a fuck about Twitter?

    1. Amanda Marcotte?

    2. Hitler?

  5. I think “Drayquon” is my new favoritest word

    It means, “making fun of easily-upset people”. to me at least.

    1. I thought that was Ohio State’s new quarterback?

      Learn something every day…

      1. “Draequon” means “dragon dick” in Swahili

  6. That Buzzfeed troll article is hilarious:

    “The story, A Racist Gamer Group Has Been Posing As Baltimore Looters On Twitter, focuses on a group called ColorCabal, which BuzzFeed reports is using social media?and the hashtag #BaltimoreLootCrew?to spread old photos, claiming they are Baltimore looters, bragging about taking advantage of rioting in the city to steal.

    The BuzzFeed story quotes two self-described members of the group?one of them saying the objective of their social media effort is to do “anything that will help paint African Americans in a bad light.””

    This totally sounds legitimate and not like a troll at all. Totally.

    1. Holy God, it gets worse.

      http://i.imgur.com/ZQvdBV0.png – Here’s how the reporter for Buzzfeed did ‘research.’ She basically just talked to some dude over the internet without confirming his identity and was given quotes like this:

      “It is my mission as a Gamergate supporter to enforce ethics and remove niggers from video games.”

      When asked “why don’t you want black people in video games?” he says “because they’re niggers and they ruin everything.”

      I can’t see how this journalist possibly could have known she was getting trolled when the troll was speaking in such a realistic fashion.

      1. Damned niggers, trolling Buzzfeed like that….

        /stormfront

      2. Like I (sort of) say above, there are people who have realized that there are idiots out there who will lap up anything you give them, no matter how absurd, if you just reinforce their biases. These idiots who want this are so cluelessly controlled by their own desire to confirm their own biases that they actually apply zero critical thinking to anything that scratches their itch. The more it confirms their biases, literally the less they analyze it. It’s stunning. And the people who have realized this are working overtime to give these idiots what they want, because it so incredibly easy to do so, and they will reward you massively for it.

        Incentives matter.

      3. Ema O’Connor
        News Fellow at BuzzFeed
        Education: Columbia University in the City of New York

      4. we’re part of the 8chan image board its an offshoot of gamergate

        And here’s where someone serious could have gotten an easy first hint that this is a troll (albeit not a definitive one) given that 15 seconds on Wikipedia would inform you that 8chan predates GamerGate. I’m sure there’s at least one GamerGater in existence who thinks 8chan was started in response to GamerGate, but it’s a good reason to start being skeptical.

        But of course, she’s not someone serious.

      5. “I can’t see how this journalist possibly could have known she was getting trolled “

        You are presuming that Buzzfeed people dont generate their own Internet Racist Gamergaters the way other people self-generate ‘Rape Threats

        its not ‘being trolled’ when you’re desperately looking for exactly the evidence someone else conveniently provides.

        This is my same beef with some of the post-hoc analysis of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s UVA-rape story = people keep describing her as being “fooled” and “deceived” by the source ‘jackie’. This is a presumption of innocence which i think is unwarranted given the facts. She willingly, knowingly misrepresented the degree of fact-checking she had done before anyone had even busted her. Which shows “awareness of guilt”. why would she hide/misrepresent how much firsthand reporting (i.e. “talking to people”) she’d actually done if she was actually confident in the original source at that time?

    2. For those who are unfamiliar, 8chan and 4chan are open message boards that often stage large-scale and highly offensive or destructive internet pranks and “cyberterrorism,” including the misogynist GamerGate.

      Setting aside the ludicrousness of the “cyberterrorism” label (HACKERS ON STEROIDS!!!) and the poor word choice (“often stage” versus “often used to stage”), what’s funny is that “offensive” is linked to a post about an anti-GamerGate comedian who made threats while pretending to be a GamerGater* and “destructive” links to a description of a stunt that, while disgusting, doesn’t actually provide evidence of, you know, destruction.

      *Perhaps the offensive part is the alleged harassment of said comedian by 8channers**? How meta.

      **Which, if it transpired as alleged, did go over the line, not that I should have to point that out.

      1. “large-scale and highly offensive or destructive internet pranks”

        Which no one would know even existed if there weren’t a screaming cadre of the perpetually-offended social justice clique letting everyone know about it in major media channels, 24/7

        Who’s really committing the ‘prank’ here?

  7. The tank on ZeroFox’s website is awesome.

    1. I’m not sure I even want to go to a cybersecurity firms web page.

  8. Remember when being a “hacker” used to mean something? Creating a fake twitter account with a picture of a Black is not “hacking.”

    1. I GOT AN IDEA LETS MAKE RACIST NAMES AND POST STUPID COMMENTS AT HIT AND RUN THEN EVERYONE CAN POINT AT THEM AND GO, “LIBURTARIANS IS RAYCISTS!!? SEE?”

      they’re probably salontards.

      1. Another attempt:

        Hacker’s Jokes

  9. HJ

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.