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Jared Kushner, Facebook and Hacking: Propaganda in 2017 and how we got here (2)

Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, was very much behind her father’s presidential campaign. He focused on message tailoring, sentiment manipulation and machine learning or artificial intelligence. His friends in Silicon valley are some of the best digital marketers in the world. He also focused on micro-targeting on Facebook: “I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,” Mr Kushner said. Mr Kushner’s inexperience in political campaigning and his understanding of the world online became an advantage. Mr Kushner also looked at campaign spending differently by getting a maximum return on every dollar spent. “We played Moneyball, asking ourselves which states will get the best ROI for the electoral vote,” Mr Kushner explained. “I asked, How can we get Trump’s message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?” He tapped into the Republican National Committee’s data machine and he also hired Cambridge Analytica (CA) to help identify which voters mattered the most for Mr Trump to win. Be it trade, immigration or change. There are digital tools out there such as Deep Root, which drove his TV spend by identifying shows popular with voter blocks in different regions. The TV show NCIS had ads directed at anti-Obamacare voters and for folks worried about immigration it was shows like The Walking Dead. “It’s hard to overstate and hard to summarize Jared’s role in the campaign,” says billionaire Peter Thiel, the only significant Silicon Valley figure to publicly back Trump. “If Trump was the CEO, Jared was effectively the chief operating officer.”

This week Facebook publically acknowledged that its platform has been exploited by governments manipulating public opinion in other countries. Including during the presidential elections in the America and France. In a white paper, they detailed well-funded as well as low-funded techniques that are used by nations and organisations to spread disinformation and lies for geopolitical goals. It explained that these tactics go further than “fake news” as they include content seeding, targeted data collection and fake accounts to help amplify a particular view. “We have had to expand our security focus from traditional abusive behavior, such as account hacking, malware, spam and financial scams, to include more subtle and insidious forms of misuse, including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people,” said the company. Facebook didn’t mention any nation states involved, but that their investigation ‘does not contradict’ the report [PDF] by the US Director of National Intelligence, outlining Russian involvement in the US election.

The white paper [PDF] doesn’t go into much detail about micro-targeting or what are known as “dark posts”. These are paid, sponsored Facebook posts that can only be seen by those that you want to manipulate. Mr Kushner also employed this technique during the Trump campaign. The paper does talk about targeted data collection that uses phishing malware to infect an individual’s or organisation’s computer. The malware steals their identification and information in emails and in their social media accounts. This information helps hackers to better target their phishing campaigns or ‘advance harmful information operations’.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) had their emails hacked due to a phishing campaign by Russian hackers in the run up to the election last year. One of these was sent to the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John Podesta. One of his assistants, Charles Devalan, noticed the email that was sent to Mr Podesta’s private email account. It asked Mr Podesta to change his password. Mr Devalan could see that it was a phishing attack and forwarded it to a computer technician. Instead of saying that ‘This is an illegitimate email’ and ‘John needs to change his password’ he typed that it was ‘legitimate’, meaning that they unwittingly gave the hackers access to about 60,000 emails.

This week it was revealed that Russian intelligence has been allegedly sending phishing emails to officials and others involved in Emmanuel Macron’s campaign in the French presidential election. Security researchers at cybersecurity company, Trend Micro noticed a hacking group sending emails with links to fake websites that baits them into turning over their passwords. They believe that Russian intelligence are behind this and the registering of decoy web addresses, were as recent as April 15th this year. The websites are registered to a group of web addresses that they say belong to the Russian intelligence unit that they refer to as Pawn Storm, also known as Fancy Bear, APT28, Sofacy and STRONTIUM. US and European intelligence agencies as well as US private security researchers have determined that they were responsible for hacking the DNC last year.

Trend Micro also released a thorough report [PDF] detailing phishing attempts by Pawn Storm that they have blocked, including their email headers. They also provide visual examples of how hackers target high profile email users. Mainstream media has also been utilised by Pawn Storm to publicise their attacks as well as to attempt to public influence. One example is reputable German magazine Der Spiegel reported on doping in sports in January this year. They admit to being in contact with the “Fancy Bear hackers” for months. They say that in December last year that they received “several sets of data containing PDF and Word documents in addition to hundreds of internal emails from United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and WADA, the World AntiDoping Agency.”

In April 2015, the British army created a special force of Facebook warriors, with skills in journalism, psychological operations or PsyOps, and in using social media to engage in unconventional warfare. They join the US and Israeli armies that already heavily engage in PsyOps. Counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan has inspired the creation of the force. An army spokesperson said: “77th Brigade is being created to draw together a host of existing and developing capabilities essential to meet the challenges of modern conflict and warfare. It recognises that the actions of others in a modern battlefield can be affected in ways that are not necessarily violent.”

In the last article I mentioned Michael Flynn’s 2010 report, when he was the top US intelligence officer in Afghanistan. It was about wanting intelligence in counterinsurgency to act more like journalists.

The purpose of this series of articles is to provide you with as much background as I can, by researching and analysing information that can only be backed up with evidence. I believe that this story is onion-like with many layers as well as foreign players involved. A multi-layered attack on democracy around the world is currently at play. Because this story is playing out in real time, new information, once validated, will also be woven into the series.

My next article will explore Wilson Woodrow’s contribution to propaganda and how this has helped lead us to the likes of Breitbart News and Fox News.

See also: Cambridge Analytica arrives in Australia




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  1. Michael Taylor

    Great post, Mel. It’s an eye-opener for me.

  2. Sean Stinson

    This week it was revealed that Russian intelligence has been allegedly sending phishing emails to officials and others involved in Emmanuel Macron’s campaign in the French presidential election.

    C’mon. even the AFR article didn’t go that far.

    I wish people would stop repeating hearsay as fact. It is really not helpful.

  3. Mel Mac

    Read the Trend Micro Report & the other PDF links perhaps Sean, the AFR link was simply for ease if not across it all.

  4. Mel Mac

    Yes Alistair, this is referenced in my first couple of articles. Links should be at the bottom of the article? I will be delving into the role of the media and it’s history in regards to propaganda as we know it today, next.

  5. Mel Mac

    If only we could subscribe to them all Michael 😉

  6. Mel Mac

    Thank you!

  7. Michael Taylor

    Mel, it’s been over dozens of sites for days now that Russia phished the French election. It’s hard to miss.

  8. Sean Stinson

    Right… so Russia hacked the US/French/British elections. Assad uses chemical weapons against his own People. Kim is am immature brat who has enough nukes to end life on earth and is determined to use them. China is flexing its muscle in the South American Sea and must be stopped. Venezuela is the number one regional threat to US security

    Can’t anyone see where this is leading?

    Keep amplifying the rhetoric. The oligarchs will get their war once the masses are convinced who the enemy is.

    That this is supposed to be an ‘analysis’ of ‘propaganda’ is beyond irony.

  9. Mel Mac

    Mate, I’m no where near done, with my ‘analysis’ and you are off on another tangent. No need to be rude.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Sean so hates the US that he has no room to consider wrongdoing by anyone else, particularly Russia.

  11. Sean Stinson

    I wasn’t being rude. If you want to see rude, read the comments on some of my posts.

  12. Sean Stinson

    Yeah that’s right I “hate” the US. I “hate” them because I am immature and uneducated and refuse to consider alternate points of view. It has nothing at all to do with 900 military bases around the world. Nothing to do with 400 years of oppression by an empire of “free trade” and finance which has ruled the world since the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Nothing to do with colonialism and slavery. Nothing to do with full spectrum dominance. Nothing to do with invading 70 odd countries in as many years. Nothing to do with the wholesale looting of the resources of poorer countries while their populations starve. Nothing to do with overthrowing governments and turning country after country into rubble. Nothing to do with trade sanctions and crippling dept imposed on other countries in the name of humanitarianism. None of that. I am just a hater. I just “hate” the US.

  13. Mel Mac

    He’s too angry, I’ve no time for that. I’m trying to tease out ALL of the elements involved, including Wilson Woodrow in my next one lol He’s certainly not bloody Russian! Just read through the comments, I will be getting to the Key stone & a couple of other things that you have mentioned. Love your work btw Kaye ?

  14. burniebobthe_b_

    So Russia goes phishing and America goes invading and bombing.
    Bad stuff Just watched a dark net on Americas games console savvy military in a facility in deep America playing drone games and bombing the hell out of all and sundry at will. An interesting side comment was because of the high cost of boots on the ground and the resulting problem of boots on the ground {40% of returning military claim PTSD} the joystick army reign.
    Now I have a fair idea which one, phishing or drones scares me most

  15. Alan Baird

    I’ve had enough of all this propaganda! Let’s just nail one thing right now in the wake of Donald Trump’s glorious ascendancy! The crowds at his inauguration were the LARGEST BOUTIQUE CROWDS in US history, and his vote tally was every bit as enormous when viewed in the boutique spectrum. In short, the most crushing boutique victory ever!

  16. Mel Mac

    Joystick army..Technology is getting more and more sophisticated & in subtle ways too.

  17. Mel Mac

    Gah could barely watch all of that yesterday, listen to what he says though & what he repeats. It’s all data driven & quite telling, that is if you can bare to listen to him 😉

  18. Sean Stinson

    Who is this Wilson Woodrow? You’ve mentioned him twice so I figure he must be important?

  19. burniebobthe_b_

    Mel Mac.
    The joystick army are totally desensitised.THe little clip I’ve included shows young miss off at the gym, comes onsite at her base, signs on, kills someone, clocks off shortly after nd takes her kid to Chucky Cheese however I’ve only iclude the 2 minutes of “work” to show the simplicity and desensitised personnel

    Warcraft and other games console games help hone their skills for the main event

  20. Mel Mac

    It’s what I’m writing about next in the series. Did you read it all? Not being cute, no time for that. I’m going back to 1917…

  21. Kaye Lee

    Sean I am no apologist for the US. History shows their self-serving imperialism and military domination. No-one is arguing that. But that should not deflect or protect others from scrutiny. You rarely, if ever, disprove allegations or comment on the evidence provided. You just launch into a history lesson on the US rather than considering that Russia might just have its own propaganda machine working in its interests.

    Mel, it is such a tangled web for sure but the oil connection seems VERY fishy. Putin, Tillerson, Trump, the wife of the Russian dude who builds the pipes is besties with Ivanka, unknown investors popping up to buy repatriated oil assets, Exxon’s $500 billion deal scuttled by sanctions…..on and on it goes. Arctic drilling here we come. Climate change melting the ice just makes it easier for them.

    PS If you didn’t know that Woodrow Wilson was the US president during WW1 google could have informed you.

  22. Mel Mac

    Thanks Burnie Bob, well that is unsettling, it’s another form of psyops isn’t it..Have you read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein? Great background in Chicago school of economics ideology & the shock tactics used on whole countries to try and achieve this failed ideology.

  23. Matters Not

    From 1913 to 1921, Woodrow Wilson was important. 28th US President and all that.

  24. Mel Mac

    Fast tracking the keystone benefits Abramovich yes, and Kushner still hasn’t divulged his foreign contacts from the last 7 years to the FBI. He missed that part of the paper work to get his top security clearance. He’s pretty good pals with Benjamin Netanyahu as well. There is always an Israeli angle when it comes to warfare & technology isn’t there..

  25. Harquebus

    I know better than to use facebook and my advice to others not to use it has been, as usual, mostly ignored. Although others share my name, no internet search results refer to me. 20 years on the net and I am still anonymous although, I have no doubt that the authorities know who I am.

    Search criteria: Five eyes.

    Internet rule number 1: Never use your real name.
    Internet rule number 2: Never use your credit card.

    “The mission of the Military Information Support Operations Command (MISOC) is to influence enemy, neutral, and friendly nations and forces into holding favorable opinions and/or taking complementary actions regarding ongoing operations by the United States and its allies.”


  26. Kaye Lee

    Reflecting on his interactions with Kushner, Weiss (a columnist at the Observer owned by the Kushner’s) recalled, “[They] were limited, but they don’t give me hope about his ability to achieve peace in the Middle East. He lived in a deeply Zionist-patriarchal mental space then; I never saw him take a step out of it.”

    The Kushners are deeply connected to Israel and have been huge benefactors of Netanyahu.

  27. Kaye Lee

    Harquebus, what do you think the mission of Russia Today is?

  28. Maeve Carney

    The most serious problem here is that the education system is systematically dumbing down the population. Without any real ability to absorb facts (and remember them), analyse them and then formulate one’s own opinion on them, this kind of thing will always be successful because it relies on the stupidity/ignorance of the population. Focussing on how clever people are using social media to manipulate people is like trying to take the sting out of sunburn when the best approach would have been to apply sunscreen to prevent the burn.

  29. Mel Mac

    Hi Maeve, I agree, that along with the media dumbing us down. Whether it’s with their content or shooting down anyone that questions or critically thinks. Plus we are in a time of so much information all around us. Are we taking too much in & treating ourselves like computers with not enough down time? Can we all recall succinctly what we read yesterday? Very good points.

  30. Kaye Lee

    Which is why the move towards Direct Instruction by people who understand nothing about education is so destructive. We have to promote creativity, initiative, communication skills, independent research, analysis and critical thinking – not rote learning.

    Journalists have become lazy, and also constrained by the need for “breaking news” in a 24 hour news cycle. They tend to regurgitate press releases rather than do in-depth analysis linking together many aspects as Mel is doing here.

  31. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Pretty much the same.

    “The media I’ve had a lot to do with is lazy. We fed them and they ate it every day.” — Michael Deaver, aide to President Ronald Reagan


  32. Maeve Carney

    Mel Mac, I don’t believe that we are taking too much in. The problem lies with most people’s basic inability to know how to read and think critically. People are unaccustomed to evaluating what they hear or read. With short attention spans and no skills in remembering facts, it is more a case of people simply being overwhelmed because they have not been taught about how to think and understand what they are reading and hearing. We can’t recall what we read yesterday because schools teach what to learn and not how to learn and memory skills are simply too ‘old fashioned’ for today. Also, reading is considered a past time and not a proper utilisation of one’s time, therefore it isn’t really encouraged. People are not taught the consecutive and necessary steps of understanding, evaluating and then expressing an opinion. Schools go straight to the expressing an opinion phase without the proper foundation on which to base it. That’s the problem.

  33. Sean Stinson


    100% agree. There has been a systematic dumbing down, particularly in the West – to the point where the general populous know how to express their opinions on the internet, and that’s about all.

  34. Sean Stinson

    Also, people seem to get called out for giving “history lessons”, but how are we supposed to make sense of the present when we ignore the past?

  35. paul walter

    Just reading it gave me the creeps at first glance. I’ve reached the stage, not least in my personal adventures with computers, but also through the obvious manipulation of attempts at interpersonal communication that FB and such like purport to exist for to perpetuate, where just going near a computer recently feels me with an anomic dread and sense of disempowerment.

    It’s a sensation not unlike the one you get when you visit a blogsite for a good faith conversation and come across someone, a troll or whatever; it doesn’t matter what you say, the troll will attempt disruption.

    People like Kushner have the same malicious intent, as their intention is to turn the very stuff of life back on real people for purposes best described as culturally psychopathic.

  36. Harquebus

    “For decades the government controlled public education system has performed a mass lobotomy on their hapless matriculates, removing their ability to think and replacing it with feelings, fabricated dogma, and social indoctrination. Their minds of mush have been molded to acquiesce to the narrative propagandized by their government keepers.”
    “The game plan is tried and true. The Deep State either creates or provokes a false flag event to set in motion the pressure to respond militarily. They utilize their propaganda emitting media mouthpieces to spread disinformation and create the opinions of the non-critical thinking masses. Dramatic visual images and a storyline with an evil villain are essential to properly influencing a pliable, easily misled, oblivious public.”
    “As time passed, the propagandists have become immensely more sophisticated in their messaging, psychological assessment of a dumbed down American populace, and manipulation of patriotism, symbolism and emotions to run roughshod over those opposing nonsensical, illegal, and immoral military intervention around the world.”
    “The warnings from men of stature, integrity and nobility like Smedley Butler, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ron Paul have gone unheeded by an increasingly dumbed down, iGadget absorbed, intellectually lazy, willfully ignorant, emotionally stunted populace. They question nothing. They believe whatever the boob tube tells them to believe.”

  37. Sean Stinson


    I stopped short of saying “deliberately” dumbed down, but you are quite right. Was doing some further reading last night and stumbled upon this truly horrifying excerpt.

    “In our dreams…people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple…we will organize children…and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way. . . . ” – Statement by the Rockefeller Education Board, c. 1897

    It’s surely a far cry from what John Adams had in mind a century before:

    “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”

  38. Harquebus

    Sean Stinson
    Thanks. Something that might interest you.

    “One thing that the historical record makes obviously clear is that Adam Smith and his laissez-faire buddies were a bunch of closet-case statists, who needed brutal government policies to whip the English peasantry into a good capitalistic workforce willing to accept wage slavery.”
    “Temple also advocated putting four-year-old kids to work in the factories, writing ‘‘for by these means, we hope that the rising generation will be so habituated to constant employment that it would at length prove agreeable and entertaining to them.’’ Some thought that four was already too old.”
    “Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization. It is the lot of man. It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.”

  39. Sean Stinson

    Nice one. thanks.

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