Project Veritas targets Silicon Valley
March 13, 2018 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Project Veritas' unusual-and-often-illegal style of guerrilla journalism looks for conservative-bias at Twitter. Using fake job posting/interviews, cat-fishing on dating sites and other methods, they attempt to get employees to say incriminating (or editable to sound incriminating) things. James O'Keefe previously and Project Veritas
posted by k5.user (43 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not to mention that their operations were illegal, since California is a two-party state (and no, just being in a public space is not enough to eliminate an expectation of privacy.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:58 AM on March 13 [15 favorites]


I thought it was impossible for things to get worse. I was wrong.
posted by Nelson at 11:59 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


They’re never gonna get hired at Twitter prentending not to like nazis.
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on March 13 [28 favorites]


Conservatives are so funny, ever trying to make their own reality.
posted by victotronics at 12:27 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


Landrieu should've demanded jail time, instead, the judge sentenced probation and $1,500.
posted by Chuffy at 12:32 PM on March 13 [12 favorites]


Don't forget that Project Veritas and James O'Keefe staged a sex dungeon on a boat in an attempt to embarrass (??) a journalist making a documentary about their organization. The script referred to this journalist (who is the recipient of more than a dozen regional and national awards for journalism) as "a bubble-headed-bleach-blonde" and accused CNN of "using hot blondes to seduce interviewees to get screwed on television."
posted by muddgirl at 12:37 PM on March 13 [15 favorites]


Companies need to train their employees in Opsec the same way the military does. In fact, it wouldn't hurt for everyone to be wary of new acquaintance that ask lots of questions about your current job or previous job. Even a job interview should be more about your skills than specific aspects of your previous jobs. Corporate espionage is not a new concept, this is just more of the same but under the guise of "journalism".
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:37 PM on March 13 [30 favorites]


I feel like we should have a general agreement to use either "Project 'Veritas'" or "Project Veritas (sic)" when talking about these fractured fucksticks.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:38 PM on March 13 [35 favorites]


An industry that is almost entirely white male seems like a bad target for conservatives, but man they sure are really upset about nazis being banned on Twitter.

They even secretly filmed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey by having an operative pose as a homeless person and confront him at a Blue Bottle coffee shop.

Pretty sure this is legal, why can't they just spend all their time doing this
posted by bradbane at 12:42 PM on March 13 [6 favorites]


Why should we even be giving these guys attention? It'd be one thing if their operations were legal-and-authentic-but-embarrassing. They're often illegal and they clearly distort footage.
posted by praemunire at 12:44 PM on March 13 [12 favorites]


In fact, it wouldn't hurt for everyone to be wary of new acquaintance that ask lots of questions about your current job or previous job.

Yes it would. That would make it harder to form social relationships in professional settings and prevent people from sharing useful information about working conditions.
posted by value of information at 12:52 PM on March 13 [11 favorites]


Why should we even be giving these guys attention? It'd be one thing if their operations were legal-and-authentic-but-embarrassing. They're often illegal and they clearly distort footage.

I'm really not a fan of Peter Báthory Thiel's takedown of Gawker, but it's true that when you turn your guns to VERY wealthy people, you are potentially in for a world of hurt.

If that happens, I don't imagine being too upset.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:53 PM on March 13 [6 favorites]


The script referred to this journalist (who is the recipient of more than a dozen regional and national awards for journalism) as "a bubble-headed-bleach-blonde"

Even their insults are lame; they cribbed that line from a Don Henley song.
posted by Gelatin at 12:53 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]


Companies need to train their employees in Opsec the same way the military does. In fact, it wouldn't hurt for everyone to be wary of new acquaintance that ask lots of questions about your current job or previous job.

I cannot tell you how useful OPSEC training has been for the years 2016-18.
posted by corb at 1:07 PM on March 13 [33 favorites]


I love to see them calling out in even a small way that WeWork is giving space to nonexistent companies to do this kind of shit. I actually like the idea of coworking spaces generally, but coworking spaces that survive by taking money from fly-by-night scammers need to get called out or all of them are going to wind up with the reputation of just being for shady companies and they're going to become very quickly unusable by anybody who wants a decent reputation.
posted by Sequence at 1:10 PM on March 13 [7 favorites]


corb: I cannot tell you how useful OPSEC training has been for the years 2016-18.

Where would one get such training? Curious.
posted by Quackles at 1:17 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


As garbage as PV is, pointing to them as doing “illegal” things by violating two-party consent laws is something I would take issue with. Two party consent is, IMNSHO, usually pretty oppressive against the powerless who have good reason to want to capture evidence of things done and said by those in power over them, where folks in power often can just drop a “This is being recorded” on people who have no real ability to decline to be recorded.

If you’re talking about their abusive false light actions, that’s a whole other story. But personally I’d like to see more recording of what sort of shit @jack and his useless ilk get up to, not less.
posted by phearlez at 1:24 PM on March 13 [16 favorites]


Maybe not OPSEC, but there are good resources to assist in spotting actual Veritas operatives:
www.projectveritas.exposed
posted by jetsetsc at 1:24 PM on March 13 [6 favorites]


Good. "Let's you and him fight."
posted by BS Artisan at 1:26 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


OPSEC Awareness
posted by leotrotsky at 1:27 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


I cannot tell you how useful OPSEC training has been for the years 2016-18.

I see what you did there
posted by J.K. Seazer at 1:32 PM on March 13 [49 favorites]


OPSEC Awareness

Uses Flash

Nice try.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:33 PM on March 13 [25 favorites]


As garbage as PV is, pointing to them as doing “illegal” things by violating two-party consent laws is something I would take issue with.

Well, they are illegal in the state of California, though, and whether or not it's a law that favors those in power doesn't materially change that fact. Project Veritas broke the law willfully, which is important to note in that it fits into a broader pattern of Project Veritas willfully breaking other laws repeatedly.
posted by cjelli at 1:38 PM on March 13 [20 favorites]


Can someone tell me how deception using a fake offer of employment isn't just straight-up fraud?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:42 PM on March 13 [13 favorites]


I'm all for using any law that exists to try and hammer PV until it goes bankrupt.

I'm also all for changing California's bad two party consent law. I can understand the reasoning behind it, and I can even agree with it to a large degree. But the result doesn't work.
posted by sotonohito at 1:45 PM on March 13 [7 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull Yeah, I'm with you there. The victim may well have turned down other offers of employment on the expectation that PV's lies were a genuine job offer, that sounds like fraud and lost wages to me.
posted by sotonohito at 1:48 PM on March 13 [7 favorites]


I think that discussing the legality of their methods is certainly worthwhile but is really secondary at best and often a distraction. Imagine if (e.g.) they were doing the same thing to root out racially discriminatory bias in hiring—I reckon the consensus here would not care too much about how legal it was. What is really germane is if they are manipulating their source material and if they are actually saying anything true or if it's just a bunch of fabricated footage and noise.
posted by koavf at 1:48 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


I think that discussing the legality of their methods is certainly worthwhile but is really secondary at best and often a distraction...What is really germane is if they are manipulating their source material and if they are actually saying anything true or if it's just a bunch of fabricated footage and noise.

I strongly disagree. This isn't their first rodeo; they have repeatedly released recordings that were maliciously edited to present false findings. It's generally not 'fabricated' footage precisely because their approach is to obtain 'genuine' records, edit them to remove context, and then spin those contextless edits to tell a false narrative. This has happened several times, and their defense is 'but the recordings are real!' They're real in that they aren't CGI; they aren't 'real' in that they don't prove the points Project Veritas claims they prove.

Because so much of their supposed accuracy derives from their ability to generate 'genuine' video -- and not from actual investigations, or substantive interviews, or document reviews -- their methods matter a lot, and because their methods matter the legality of their methods matter. Project Vertias' entire scam is predicated on separate material from method; we shouldn't abet them in that.
posted by cjelli at 1:59 PM on March 13 [33 favorites]


corb: I cannot tell you how useful OPSEC training has been for the years 2016-18.

Where would one get such training? Curious.


corb has mentioned her military background previously on the blue, presumably that’s where she learned it. That being said, the general principles aren’t exactly secret, and you can probably find a lot of good info via google.
posted by Itaxpica at 2:02 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


🎶 I hope they go to jail 🎶
posted by bq at 2:28 PM on March 13 [7 favorites]


Opsec isn't really more than having an understanding of when and how to share sensitive information both online and in person. Do you need to have in-depth discussions about the policies and practices of a former employer with someone on your first date? Or any date? Do you need to give identifying information about yourself online which may seem innocuous but when taken in aggregate could be used to doxx you?

I understand value of information's concerns (seriously could these names be a little less on the nose?) but it's entirely possible to have awareness of what you're sharing and to who and where without impeding one's ability to share empowering information with your peers. For instance, don't talk about sensitive stuff in a bar or restaurant where PV's surveillance "Loophole" exists. Talk about it in private, with people you trust.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:31 PM on March 13 [6 favorites]


"Talk about it in private, with people you trust."

Except that won't help you. As PV has stated openly, they are attempting to infiltrate organizations, develop long term (fraudulent) relationships, and then exploit the trust that they have built up over time. These people were talking private to people they trusted. They just trusted the wrong people.

They weren't conducting surveillance on other people's private conversations, they were people that the victims trusted. In some cases these conversations did occur in private as well (meeting rooms).

Why is this person trying to get me to verbalize things that I would not normally say, that could be incriminating or make me (or the organization I work(ed) with) look foolish? Is someone trying to get me to break the law, where I normally would not (this is more to protect yourself against police informants/infiltrators). How did this new person get into my circle of trust?

PV's old tactics were relatively easy to defend against (hey, someone I *just met* is trying to get me to say some crazy embarrassing/incriminating shit). The threat of infiltration is essentially trying to privatize COINTELPRO. Okay, the head of the organization may be a sloppy incompetent asshole, but with as many millions of dollars being tossed his way, and his apparent belief in his 'cause', it's entirely possible that he'll attract helpers that know how to conduct operations skillfully.

What PV is attempting to do is to spend more energy gaining trust, and then exploiting it. With millions of dollars being bankrolled to them they may have more success in the future. Note that their successful attempts at smearing Planned Parenthood occurred after their successful attempts to smear/destroy ACORN. Being outed as unethical and lying provocateurs has not slowed their success. They are willing to move on from failed 'operations' and probably merely take lessons from that before moving on to the next.
posted by el io at 3:12 PM on March 13 [23 favorites]


They were spotted here in SF back in January.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:23 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Who's financing PV?
posted by slater at 5:05 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Who's financing PV?

According to ThinkProgress, the definitive answer is unknown but what details they were able to unearth point to the Kochs (via DonorsTrust) as well as a bunch of other conservative organizations.

Meanwhile, if I had Thiel money at my disposal, I'd definitely bankroll lawsuits to sue these motherfuckers into oblivion. That fake job interview stuff would be reprehensible even if it weren't in service of these conservative shenanigans.
posted by mhum at 5:19 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]


the party of ideas
posted by thelonius at 5:48 PM on March 13 [4 favorites]


I think that discussing the legality of their methods is certainly worthwhile but is really secondary at best and often a distraction.

My issue is only with how we support unjust laws by playing into the "well, it is illegal" talk because we happen to (reasonably) loathe them. If they caught and charged O'Keefe with the reefers I'd be opposed to that too and wouldn't want to make any public noises that could be used to defend that law. Not because I have any concern for him, but because of my concern for everyone else.
posted by phearlez at 6:59 PM on March 13 [3 favorites]


koavf On the one hand, yes I don't really have an objection to the illegality of the act. I'm hoping they get nailed to the wall for it, but the actual illegality isn't the root of my objection.

On the other hand, I **WOULD** object to a group I approve of working for goals I approve of that had been luring people in with false job offers and false dates and relationships. That goes well beyond acceptably (from my POV anyway) breaking a not so great law and into abusive territory.

It's also true that PV has a long and unpleasant history of splicing together video so as to make their victims look as bad as possible, and they are perfectly willing to use carefully edited video to make their victims appear to be saying the opposite of what they actually said. But that's a secondary issue from the abuse and fraud issue.
posted by sotonohito at 6:43 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Remember that any courtesy you extend these people absolutely will not be extended in return.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on March 14 [9 favorites]


Remember that any courtesy you extend these people absolutely will not be extended in return.

Exactly. I think that O'Keefe really does believe that he is deploying the same tactics that the "mainstream media" uses to "smear" conservative figures. That's why I highlighted the sex boat sting where Project Veritas accuses CNN of using blond journalists to seduce him. He really believes that this was their intention, and he thinks that he is merely turning the tables when he runs this con.
posted by muddgirl at 10:14 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


I’m not sure how many ways it can be expresssed that it’s about not harming other people, not about extending these sleaze any courtesy. I don’t think people should be raped in prison. So not making jokes about O’Keefe being raped in prison isn’t about showing him some sort of respect. It’s about not being a part of shifting/perpetuating a cultural perspective that’s wrong.
posted by phearlez at 11:29 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Fine but then you end up with laws applying to others but not to them, which will be something they absolutely use to their advantage.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


I’m not sure how many ways it can be expresssed that it’s about not harming other people, not about extending these sleaze any courtesy.

I hear that, but I think that eliding what Project Vertias has actually done (ie, broken the law) does them a courtesy because it aligns with, and therefore reinforces, their chosen framing for conceptualizing their work (illegal invasion of personal privacy vs. 'journalism'). I get that you don't intend to do them a courtesy, but it is one: you're making the argument that we should ignore O'Keefe's law breaking. You're making an argument about the law in a discussion that's substantively about Project Veritas: framing matters. Project Veritas has a history of ignoring many good laws, and has a history of using their (relatively) deep pockets and lack of regional ties to flout the law -- and has not, generally, spend much time making cases about the law.

I don't think you'd be getting this kind of pushback in, say, a post about how states and countries differ in requirements for recording, or a post about the history of how those standards evolved, or about how 'two-party consent' often also allows (as California's code does) exceptions for one-party consent in cases involving certain categories of crimes -- there are a wide variety of approaches to the problem of balancing privacy rights and the public interest -- or about how two-party states limit (or don't limit) journalism, &c. That would be an interesting post!
posted by cjelli at 1:29 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


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