Posted on | January 14, 2013 | 11 Comments
“Our ability to cope with deception in the Internet is poor at best. We cannot readily attribute memes to people, because in the Internet, identities are pseudonyms for influence actors we may never have met. Individuals may have multiple identities and spread memes for their own purposes ignoring any need for truth. The problem lies largely in trust relationships, which have historically been based on repeated interactions within relatively small groups of people who must live where they are. Trust building interactions and reputations based on long histories don’t exist in the same way in the Internet. There is little to lose for malicious actors.”
— Fred Cohen, Ph.D., “Infuence Operations”
While doing some follow-up research on Neal Rauhauser — whose persistence as a “malicious actor” is remarkable — I became aware of Rauhauser’s familiarity with Dr. Cohen’s work. Having boasted that he should have won “Iron Troll of the Year” for his activities, Rauhauser’s persistence is not his only remarkable attribute.
There is also the fact that Neal Rauhauser is not in federal prison.
Many people have remarked about this: How is it that Neal Rauhauser can deliberately lie to federal law enforcement — sending false accusations to FBI agents — and not be prosecuted? There are basically three schools of thought on this question:
- Neal has highly-placed political allies in the Justice Department who effectively guarantee his immunity from prosecution;
- Neal has managed to deceive investigators into believing his inexhaustible supply of bullshit; or
- Neal is a target in an ongoing investigation and the feds are just giving him plenty of rope with which to hang himself and his associates.
Of course, #3 is the most reassuring, whereas #2 is implausible — who could ever be stupid enough to believe a word Neal says? — and #1 is almost too frightening to contemplate.
Anyway, I’ve also recently become aware of new deceptions practiced by Rauhauser, as well as some earlier deceptions I had not previously suspected, and just wanted to caution people to be very careful about anyone trying to deceive you, including by impersonation.
These “malicious actors” are a dime a dozen nowadays.