Misuse of Social Media at Occupy:
Psy-Ops and Harassment
by Sue Basko
In about mid-December, after the main US Occupy camps had been evicted, an apparent psy-ops campaign appeared nationwide, attacking Occupy participants and volunteers. Psy-Ops are psychological operations designed to make people fearful of participating by making them afraid for their lives or safety, publicly embarrassing them, mocking them, etc.
Across the nation, the pattern of psy-ops against the Occupy groups has been very similar and has taken several forms. One of the most insidious things that has been done is that live streamers, the citizen journalists who provide live video coverage of events, have been harassed and threatened, online as well as in person. Phones have been stolen. Streamers have been physically attacked. Harassing posts have been made on Twitter.
The harassment against the livestreamers is, at least on the surface, being done by people who claim to support violence – either property damage or personal harm. Three of the nation’s major streamers – Oakfosho,TimCast and OccupyFreedomLA have all been harassed by pro-violence people. In many cases, those doing the harassing are identified. TimCast has been physically attacked twice. OccupyFreedomLA had her phone stolen mid-stream. Both TimCast and Oakfosho have been subjected to volleys of vicious harassment by pro-violence forces. OccupyFreedomLA has mainly been harassed by Olaasm, the psy-op working the Occupy LA beat, as well as by a hate-filled man from up in the Oakland area. TimCast has been harassed by repeat online harassers from New York as well as from the Oakland area.
WHO Engages in Psy-Ops? Psy-Ops can be undercover law enforcement agents, such as police officers, FBI, or DHS. The might also be private agencies, such as happened at Occupy Austin, where Stratfor infiltrated. They might also be actual pro-violence people or groups – although I would say, whenever you hear anyone tooting their horn about being pro-violence and haranguing others for not being violent enough or for being a “snitch”, that is your alarm that the person is most likely a law enforcement agent looking to catch those that agree with him or her. Psy-Ops may also be conducted by opposite groups. For example, a right wing group might conduct psy-ops on an Occupy participant or group to discredit them. Psy-Ops are sometimes conducted by lone crazies or small clusters of lone crazies. For example, there are several known such people and clusters in the Los Angeles area—and once you are involved in any politics or activism in the L.A. area, you soon find out that “everyone” knows who they are.
WHAT are the motives in conducting psy-ops? I think the motives of true law enforcement are different from the other groups. All the other groups I listed above have as their motive that they are hate-filled, mentally unstable, and manipulative, and the internet gives them a playground for that.
With law enforcement psy-ops, the goals are mainly twofold: 1) To scare off normal, law-abiding people by causing division, fear, embarrassment; and 2) To attract and gather those who actually do want to plan violence, and set them up for eventual arrest and indictment. Psy-ops can be quite effective at both tasks. However, while it is legal for law enforcement to infiltrate protest groups to ferret out those advocating or planning damage to property or people, it is not legal for law enforcement to harass peaceful people from engaging in their Constitutionally protected rights. Right now that is what is going on – the Constitutional rights of peaceful people are being trampled upon. Please see the DOJ Guidelines regarding FBI Infiltration into groups.
Right now, in the Occupy movement, there is a group of not-quite-bright people caught in the miasma: they are not quite evil enough to be pro-violence, but they also do not have the spine to denounce violence, and they are having trouble seeing that the charismatic people talking trash are most likely actually law enforcement agents. Get clear, folks: You can be in on a criminal conspiracy if you plan or agree to any criminal acts with others.
The playing fields for the online psy-ops maneuvers being used on the Occupy protesters and volunteers are twitter, facebook, blogs, fake profiles on live streams posting troll comments, list serves, etc. The things being done are illegal as crimes or torts – defamation; copyright infringement, such as reposting someone’s private email or other written material; reposting legal emails sent by a lawyer, which is criminal; cyberstalking, cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, endangering safety, and more.
At Occupy LA, a group called Olaasm has made its mark as a harassing psy-ops machine, cranking out prototypical psy-ops material day after day, cyberbullying Occupy LA volunteers in many fields, including social media, website, GA, medics, lawyers (including me), livestreamers, minority participants, and more. Each day a new set of victims is cyberbullied by the Olaasm group. Almost everything that I have read by the Olaasm group and its supporters appears to be illegal as either crime or tort, or both. The Olaasm material is vile, invasive, intrusive, belittling, devoid of all decency. The Olaasm material is written anonymously, but its supporters have made themselves known. Their written material is pure hatred with a right-wing slant, and yet their mock conceit is that they are “more radical than you.” I think it is grossly obvious that the Olaasm group is one of psy-ops – either of law enforcement or paid by a right wing group. Some of the “supporters” of Olaasm are apparently or obviously agents and some are hapless dupes, thinking they are in on something excitingly evil. Maybe the agents and their dupes can all go off together and leave the peaceful protesters alone? Maybe it is time for Occupy LA to condemn this group and its actions?
The Olaasm group and/or supporters seems to be winnowed down to fewer than 10 participants, and yet they have managed to harm the hundreds in the rest of the group. But that is how psy-ops work. Personally, I do not understand what the dupes find alluring in professing a desire to destroy property and harm people, and engaging day to day in hurting the participants and volunteers of their own organization? It takes a person seriously devoid of character development for all that. These are the people who would have stepped right up to help the Nazis load their neighbors onto trains. We’re looking for a few adherents who will be sworn to secrecy, and they must be lacking in any respect for others, with no decency or integrity – come join us in the Olaasm group. Who joins? Who is sufficiently immoral? Who sides with bullies professing violence? Who intentionally systematically harms their own neighbors?
In response to Olaasm, a group of guardian angels and protectors has formed on Twitter, with the handle @AgBlink. @AgBlink has few listed “followers,” but MANY actual followers. The @Agblink folks have given me permission to use their list of Psy-Ops techniques, which they provide to let Occupiers know about the techniques being used against them by groups such as Olaasm.
A Psy-Ops campaign embedded in the Occupy movement:
1) creates a negative public image for targets (e.g. by surveilling activists, & then releases personal information).
2) attacks internal organization (e.g. agents create false tensions, or blog & tweet to try to create conflicts).
3) creates dissension between groups (e.g. spreads false rumors or vilifies volunteers).
4) restricts access to public resources (e.g. pressures non-profit organizations to cut off funds or material support).
5) restricts the ability to organize protests (e.g. agents promote violence against police at protests).
6) restricts the ability of individuals to participate in group activities (e.g by character assassinations, intimidation).