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May 30, 2011 11:02 PM   Subscribe

Newstweek: fixing the facts. Newstweek is a device that injects fake news into unsecured wireless connections. More info at hackaday.
posted by loquacious (26 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I believe the Old Saying is "Believe half of what you see, and Nothing of what you read".
posted by taxpayer at 11:19 PM on May 30, 2011


Wow, that has the potential to seriously fuck with people's heads. Imagine the havoc you could wreak if you placed one in the right spot, like a newsroom.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:20 PM on May 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm just going to sit here and think about the last fifteen years of trying to get people to accept things like IPsec.
posted by hattifattener at 11:24 PM on May 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Newstweek is a device that injects fake news
Fox is rebranding?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:07 AM on May 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


Newstweek's website.
posted by nangar at 12:35 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The theory stated at the start of the video is that because people do not believe they are being propagandized they easier to dupe. That certainly isn't a new idea, but this is a novel "solution". Perhaps by sprinkling extra quantities of subtle bullshit into the newsfeeds of world, they can force people to read with a more critical eye.

Of course they might also use this power to publish stories about ancient bongs from outer space. Who knows?
posted by Winnemac at 1:12 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Usage of HTTPS prevents this. Not all websites support it, unfortunately.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:08 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


How can we be sure this post isn't just a Pepsi Blue Newstweek? I mean, I know loquacious has been around since 2003 and has been favorited almost 20,000 times, but his most used AskMe tag is "hack." Conspiracy, people!
posted by postel's law at 3:24 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 1992 I was working as a reporter at a local daily newspaper and I realized I could edit AP wire stories while they were still in the queue, before they had been snagged and inserted into the dummies. I picked some innocuous stories that I knew we wouldn't pick up, and inserted all kinds of salacious details and outrageous quotes, then flagged them for the non-editorial-decision-making staff to read. They thought the stories were real, of course, coming in on the AP wire. The only one I specifically remember was about a Catholic priest in Boston, one of the first wave of molestation arrests. I had him vehemently defending his acts as strictly in accordance with church doctrine. This was the kind of shit that amused me as a newspaperman. None of it ran, I promise you.
posted by planetkyoto at 3:45 AM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Perhaps by sprinkling extra quantities of subtle bullshit into the newsfeeds of world, they can force people to read with a more critical eye.

Hasn't worked so far.
posted by DU at 5:48 AM on May 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


Perhaps by sprinkling extra quantities of subtle bullshit into the newsfeeds of world, they can force people to read with a more critical eye

And who the fuck are your or they to "force people" to do anything? If you can't persuade them through argument that what they read is slanted, then the problem is your powers of persuasion.

I almost want to run an unsecured network just to bait some asshole into using this, so I can cave their head in with a bat. Sorry, I meant "force them not to interfere with the networks of others."
posted by Pastabagel at 6:17 AM on May 31, 2011


Charlie Stross has some interesting extrapolations on ways this could be put to more serious uses:
This sort of gadget is, in bulk, extremely cheap — I bet you could order them for well under $100 in batches of a thousand and up. Say you're a repressive regime, but not so repressive that you can just haul random dissidents off to the torture chamber without paying lip service to due process. How hard would it be to plant these things in your targets' homes, so that you can gaslight them by interfering with the news they're reading? Call it a digital agent provocateur. Say you're the DHS and you want a steady stream of clueless Al Qaida wannabes to arrest and show on CNN to keep everyone afraid enough to go along with your PATRIOT Act extension? Plant these in the homes of young muslim males who hang out at the wrong mosques, crank up the volume of hateful news, and see who snaps ...
posted by acb at 6:32 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I realized I could edit AP wire stories while they were still in the queue, before they had been snagged and inserted into the dummies.

That's a rather callous way of referring to your customers, don't you think?
posted by Riki tiki at 6:40 AM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


And who the fuck are your or they to "force people" to do anything? If you can't persuade them through argument that what they read is slanted, then the problem is your powers of persuasion.

Are you talking to the people who tweak the news the first time or the ones who do it the second or further times?
posted by DU at 7:23 AM on May 31, 2011


I think he's talking about people who fuck with someone else's network.

I think the attitude is: You can print all the lies you want in your newspaper, it's yours. But my network is my network. Probably okay with setting up a second overlapping WiFi with this installed.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:33 AM on May 31, 2011


I think the attitude is: You can print all the lies you want in your newspaper, it's yours. But my network is my network. Probably okay with setting up a second overlapping WiFi with this installed.

I wonder how many people would object to ISP proprietors doing this (after all, they own the network, and the customers chose it of their own free will). If, for example, you get your internet from FoxNet, a new broadband provider run by News Corp., and it transparently adds a "fair and balanced" slant to news sites you might visit, some customers might welcome this as a way of showing their loyalty and flying the flag of their values.

OTOH, the proprietors of the sites it is editing could have a legal case against any ISP which distorted what they said. Though adding a disclaimer ("This page has been edited for political bias") could get around that.

Another option would be for, say, a restaurant chain of a specific political slant to start offering free WiFi, and transparently editing the content that goes through, with the result that a lot of people who are just looking for a free internet fix see that, for example, even the Economist is reporting that global warming is a myth.
posted by acb at 7:46 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't that why we want Network Neutrality and ISPs classed as 'common carriers'?

I love the idea of the food tie-in. I really want to visit "The Nation Cafe", where the entire menu is in this font.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:52 AM on May 31, 2011


Usage of HTTPS prevents this.

Yup. Try adding the “s” — for some sites it works, for some it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, complain.

For an HTTPS-enabled site: if your browser asks you whether you want to trust the certificate, do not trust the certificate. When this happens, either the site is broken, or you are being tricked by a hacker.
posted by davel at 8:46 AM on May 31, 2011


The next time one of your relatives who doesn't really get the finer points of computer security tells you that they're going to vote for some draconian security/ISP power grab legislation because they promised to go after the "hackers" and Aunt Agatha remembered that one time she was checking Facebook in a Starbucks and she nearly soiled herself at the announcement of imminent nuclear war on Google News before she noticed the hipsters giggling in the corner, remember how cute you thought this thing was.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:16 AM on May 31, 2011


Aunt Agatha gets her news from the Farmville Almanac. She'll send you and invite if you want.
posted by haveanicesummer at 9:39 AM on May 31, 2011


And who the fuck are your or they to "force people" to do anything? If you can't persuade them through argument that what they read is slanted, then the problem is your powers of persuasion.

I almost want to run an unsecured network just to bait some asshole into using this, so I can cave their head in with a bat. Sorry, I meant "force them not to interfere with the networks of others."


I wasn't expressing agreement with any idea, just speculating about what the motives behind the project might be. Still, bring on the threats of violence tough guy, that's sure to make the world a better place. I'm sure hackers across Europe tremble with fear already.
posted by Winnemac at 10:08 AM on May 31, 2011


I think he's talking about people who fuck with someone else's network.

Then let me rephrase the question: Are we talking about first people who fuck with someone's else's network or the second and further people?

Like, do we care about people who (usually) indirectly kill and (sometimes) directly rob by broadcasting propaganda (fucking with the network of trust and information flow) or do we only care if someone alters one of those pieces of propaganda (fucking with the network of electrons)?
posted by DU at 10:24 AM on May 31, 2011


Sounded like they felt an ownership of their own network, so if someone did that to them it would be a variety of property crime. I wonder if there is a law that this violates?

But I probably shouldn't have tried to interpret someone else's post; should have let them do it.

In fact, that's what I will do. Bye.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:12 AM on May 31, 2011


davel:For an HTTPS-enabled site: if your browser asks you whether you want to trust the certificate, do not trust the certificate. When this happens, either the site is broken, or you are being tricked by a hacker.

...or the owner of the site didn't bother to get a signed certificate. While this is rather unlikely in the case of any medium-to-large site, it's certainly not unheard of for embedded devices (routers, etc) or small, self-hosted websites. You are talking about unsigned security certificates, right?
posted by nTeleKy at 3:15 PM on May 31, 2011


I wonder how many people would object to ISP proprietors doing this (after all, they own the network, and the customers chose it of their own free will).

Wonder no more. (And I had a vague memory that Phorm was doing something similar, but I could be wrong.)
posted by hattifattener at 7:34 PM on May 31, 2011


Wonder no more. (And I had a vague memory that Phorm was doing something similar, but I could be wrong.)

Inserting ads into pages, whilst leaving the content otherwise unaltered, is one thing (albeit a douchey one). Censoring or altering the content to distort its meaning would be another one.

IIRC, Phorm was not inserting ads as such, but JavaScript for tracking user browsing.
posted by acb at 3:27 AM on June 1, 2011


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