Have you ever wondered if that corny Facebook user or that statist online commenter parroting government talking points was actually a paid propagandist working for Big Government? Well, there is a good chance he or she actually was. According to recently published official documents, a scandal-plagued U.K. government snooping unit bombastically styling itself the “Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group” (JTRIG) has been using “behavioral science,” social-media trolls, and online propaganda to manipulate public opinion and destroy critics at home and abroad. And it wants still more “behavioral science support” to further enhance its troubling “capabilities.”
Among other objectives, the outfit and its armies of online trolls work to promote “obedience” and “conformity” while countering activists whom authorities characterize as “radical” or “extremist,” the documents show. The British snoops also work closely with the U.S. National Security Agency, which has found itself embroiled in growing scandals for lawlessly spying on millions of innocent Americans without so much as a warrant or even probable cause. And like the NSA, it is hardly the first time that the British snooping bureaucrats have come under fire for their shady activities. Officials insist all of their scheming is “legal.”
The latest revelations surrounding the manipulation of public discourse and opinion by JTRIG trolls, part of the U.K. signals-intelligence agency known as the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), were exposed last month by The Intercept. Several previously secret documents were published. Perhaps the most revealing, though, was a 42-page paper from 2011 entitled “Behavioral Science Support for JTRIG’s Effects and Online HUMINT [Human Intelligence] Operations” authored by psychologist Mandeep K. Dhami.