British Spy Agency GCHQ Used URL Shortener To Honeypot Arab Spring Activists

The British spy agency GCHQ used a custom URL shortener and Twitter sockpuppets to influence and infiltrate activists during the Iran revolution of 2009 and the Arab Spring of 2011, reports Motherboard, citing leaked documents by Edward Snowden. From the article: The GCHQ’s special unit, known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group or JTRIG, was first revealed in 2014, when leaked top secret documents showed it tried to infiltrate and manipulate — using “dirty trick” tactics such as honeypots — online communities including those of Anonymous hacktivists, among others. The group’s tactics against hacktivists have been previously reported, but its influence campaign in the Middle East has never been reported before. I was able to uncover it because I was myself targeted in the past, and was aware of a key detail, a URL shortening service, that was actually redacted in Snowden documents published in 2014. A now-defunct free URL shortening service — lurl.me — was set up by GCHQ that enabled social media signals intelligence. Lurl.me was used on Twitter and other social media platforms for the dissemination of pro-revolution messages in the Middle East.


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