Information Warfare

This morning I read the transcript of a recent session by Michael Goldstein and the resulting harassment of Mike Dudas after he elevated it. Here’s the link: http://diyhpl.us/wiki/transcripts/bit-block-boom/2019/how-to-meme-bitcoin-to-the-moon/

"You’re not really talking to the people who you are replying to on twitter; it is for the other people. Really the purpose of engaging in a hostile fashion is to broadcast to other people who might be looking in.” - bitstein

This is a playbook for what I consider to be violence against ideas and modern censorship in public forums.

Ugh. This topic is so gross. But it needs to be brought out into the open air.

There are at least four attack vectors for bad actors wishing to destroy community:

  1. Direct Assault.
  2. Squeezing Out.
  3. Counterfeit Communities.
  4. Attacking from Within.

Direct Assault: This is what’s outlined in the post above. We’ve seen the attacks and trolling on Twitter and elsewhere by various parties. They are right out of the playbook linked to above and include bullying, ad hominem attacks, character attacks, undermining credibility, and perhaps others. It is manipulation masquerading as truth seeking.

Squeezing Out: This might happen by means of backroom deals between power brokers. For example, law enforcement might coerce a bank to withdraw services to an exchange if the exchange supports privacy preserving tech. Or a bank might coerce an intermediary to withdraw support for anticompetitive reasons.

Counterfeit Communities: The tactic is to setup communities that appear to be genuine but are in fact created to fool newcomers. For example, the moderators of the Zcashco telegram group kicked me out after I revealed that I work for ECC (then known as Zcash Co). As far as I can tell, the moderators have no affiliation with Zcash. I’m told the creator of the group is affiliated with Monero. I have reached out to him but have not received a response.

Attack from Within: This is perhaps the most difficult and most dangerous. Tribes will band together to fight off external threats. But if you get inside the circle, you can stir dissension. Disagreement and healthy dialog, is of course, sacrosanct. Which is why this is so difficult.

Some of the tools used by those to attack from within:

  • Attempt to control the narrative. If there is a narrative that you want to destroy, shift the focus of the conversation by isolating a related or subtopic, and then elevate it. Sometimes creating controversy around that subtopic is enough. The point is to shift the conversation.

  • Suck the oxygen out of the room. Respond to everything. Respond in volume. Argue everything. Make it uncomfortable for people to engage because of the volume and tedium of responding.

  • Develop multiple personas and use them to feed off one another to create illusions of engagement.

  • Poison the truth. Take elements of truth and blend them with misinformation and rumor. Use nuance to your advantage and then elevate the misinformation and rumor so that it becomes the topic.

  • Punch and retreat. Take an aggressive position to land a punch, and then back off and play nice for a bit. The punches will land. And you can claim nice.

  • Trade secrets. Whisper rumors in ears and back hallways. Sow seeds of distrust. Be the trader of secrets. You can undermine the trust of others.

  • Keep true allegiances hidden. Don’t try to navigate multiple tribes at once with the same persona.

  • Use the goodness of people against them. For example, take take a positive attribute like anti-censorship and then cry censorship to keep misinformation alive. Take someone’s openness and trust, and then use that to obtain information that can be misconstrued and twisted.

I think the Zcash community is amazing. The people I’ve met have good hearts and the best of intentions. Ultimately, I hope Zcash will succeed or fail based on the merits of the project. But the best way to combat attacks from within is a combination of vigilance and a community that constantly rewards reinforcing its shared values.

The article posted at the top was enlightening and troubling. Unfortunately the road to meaningful change and economic freedom for everyone will be challenged at every stage. There is much at stake.

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I saw that too, 20 characters

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actually… its a nature of the cryptosphere. there’s tiny percentage of enthusiasts. minor percentage of pure scammers. and wast majority of greedy and/or deluded people, lurking for quick buck or “lifechanging gains” by doing nothing and trying to outplay each other. with such easily exploitable audience, its not strange that many opinion leaders use described methods. it just works. no, cryptocurrency also attracts positive minds. but most of them eventually getting financially wrecked or tired of corresponding cesspool of fraud. as far as i see, zcash community are sane people. but it looks like only dozens of vocal peopple are left in it since initial hype. will it grow in numbers again? that’s a question.

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Don’t mistake those of us who speak up for the entire Zcash community. There are plenty of people who don’t talk in public — or people who don’t weigh in at all, instead just waiting to see what happens. The comments here and on Twitter don’t represent everyone.

For example, as @joshs mentioned in a different thread, the people who show up at Zcon are pretty different from the people who hang out on the forum. There’s overlap, but some clear divergences. In fact, this is among the reasons why it’s good for there to be multiple ways to participate in the Zcash project!

The rule of thumb for internet communities is that 90% of people lurk, 9% of people comment, and 1% of people create original content. There’s even a Wikipedia article about the phenomenon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%_rule_(Internet_culture)

I don’t think those exact percentages apply to Zcash or the forum specifically. But in general the concept holds true, IMO. Online engagement just tends to follow a Pareto distribution — a few are super involved, some check in occasionally, but the majority is largely silent.

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Really?

You take this stuff seriously? c’mon man, its just trolls being trolls. don’t feed them. You realise they are talking about targeting main stream media and not forums like this.

I really don’t think this is an issue. That article is nothing but a pretty bad attempt at a general invasion FAQ. Ive seen better. The invasion from within is just to get people spooked and think everyone around them is a troll. The post itself is the troll.

Invasion from within internet communities has happened since the dawn of bbs’ You cant stop it - if you read the alt.syntax.tatical FAQ you will get much better techniques for disrupting discourse. - which this forum software seems to handle pretty well. idk. Im not a moderator.

Anyway, id stop worrying about shadows if I were you.

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Read the info in the link. I’ll abstain myself from trolling the guy who wrote it… Will simply point out that I wouldn’t feel threatened by anything like this, since the writing seems subpar at best. The writer raises some interesting points. As for the rest I won’t even bother to comment on. “Aleksandr Solzhentisynwhatthefuck” made me chuckle ^_^. Context: Solzhentisyn is originally a Russian name, written in Cyrillic. In my country of origin we use the same alphabet, so I can understand why it can be difficult for someone who doesn’t know Cyrillic to pronounce the name. The book recommendations seems interesting

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I do take it seriously.

Unfortunately I am aware of instances in each of these categories. I pointed out a couple. I think the public attacks are quite visible. I also see how these attacks affect sentiment as new people come into the space. I’ve had quite a few of those conversations. Ironically, before joining ECC, I wanted to be apart of the Zcash community because of the spirit of it was so different from what I saw from another privacy project.

As an example, see the trolling of Mike Dudas this weekend after he took offense to @bitstein’s call to action: https://twitter.com/mdudas/status/1163132897185939457?s=20

See his comment in the thread: “I’m very strong-willed, but months of increasing attacks from a concentrated online mob takes a toll. I’m a human – and I’m sharing a bit of the crazy so others can imagine the impact.”

I’ve also been around since the days of bbs’. I ran one. :slight_smile: There were plenty of insane threads and some trolling, but actually I had a lot of fun with it. And in that world the sysops completely set the tone for the community.

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Weve known this was coming, buck up guys! :heart::zcash:

You know it’s funny because that Bitcoin troll Manifesto up there tells you its greatest weakness

And so as an overarching effect if anybody posts what I personally consider to be very persuasive rhetoric that lacks any sincerity or meaningful content (because I dont like posting profanity and ALL CAPS so I wont do it) I will flag it
Thats the extent of any kind of authority I have here so Im gonna exercise it

The reason things are different now is because BTCMXL’s who view the crypto space as a highly competitive market place where only money matters now view Zcash as a threat
There is absolutely no other reason why they would care to spend any time here trying to divert the project from its intended path unless it was a higher path than what they’re looking at
They also can’t argue the logic behind it so they have to incessantly beat you down with their ship posts, waste your time, sap your energy, that’s how they work
Their only goal is to make you mad, everything else happens on its own
(Personally I think its a sign of Bitcoin’s Death thores, they see its end and they’re desperate)

I’m a huge fan of Bitcoin. I wish people weren’t so broken.

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I am still amazed about the fact that some people give such a power to Twitter. ( And to FB in that regard )

FB and Twitter aren’t news outlets, in my opinion they are the sewer of the Internet.
And I know sewers harbour dirt and rats, so not a place to hang out.
I am also around since the beginning, from both computers and the start of the Inet ( Yes, I also had a BBS of my own, magical times ) and since the beginning there were trolls, just don’t feed them. They are hard to destroy, we have to life with them, but if you ignore them or come with real facts, their fuel runs out.
I can only speak for some US friends I have, all liberal people from Colorado, none of them is using Twitter , and for all of the rest of my friends and family ( Europa based ) none is using Twitter, Twitter here is for people like the Cardashians and that kind of people.
FB as a newsoutlet ? Nope, both are pretty dead on this side of the big pond.

Edited because my fatfinver pushed send

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Absolutly agree with this comment. In the 2 years i have a twitter account i have made less than 10 posts, it’s even worse than facebook. It’s the worst social media i have encountered so far.

There is not a single reason i would prefer twitter, no discussion, difficult to follow, no deep thinking, full of scammers, and and and…

Okay. I get you. I feel for the people on the receiving end of this. I see why you have been reacting the way you have to things.

I dont follow other social media platforms, and know none of the people involved. for me the internet is 95% read only. this is one of the very few places I engage in.

I am not too worried myself about it. Crypto breeds tribalism. I am a privacy coin advocate. (monero as well as zec) - There is a constant mini feud between these two communities that goes well above my head. ]

Parts of the more organised trolling sections of the internet are strong monero advocates. if zaddrs were easier im sure they would use them too.

The outlined tactics are standard operation procedure for this. that is so generic it could be aimed at youtube cooking channels. Notice how blue check marks and journos are the main targets (quoted in that thread). I know how bad things can get, but we will see. - it almost read as a cut n paste of another document that outlines how to troll. I am pretty sure I know where most of it comes from. (its not crypto related at all)

Our sysops are pretty good (forum mods) - there is a lot of fun to be had in trolling, but it is a fine line. I know people from TOTSE who still mess with people online that they had frights with back in those days. There are some strange people in the world.

Remember we also have our own pet zealots and ‘zcash maximalists’. who tend to act in a similar manner on this forum (which is fine, they have containment threads for that). The basics of that troll post was just that. the basics. it was more you cant tell us from your own community, so be afraid. kind of thing. who cares? I can think of 5 people on this forum that could be called trolls/bad actors but are 100% not. (and I know some consider myself to be one)

@autotunafish - please dont start flagging stuff that “might be” trolling. That is exactly what their post is meant to do. sow discord amongst users of all places. Just flag what you would normally flag.

They specifically go after blue check marks and journos for a couple of reasons. only one needs to be mentioned. they have more exposure and give more exposure to the trolls, it is an amplification attack. The whole post is about that. the non published plan would look something like “write inflammatory document pretending to be one side”, “harass blue checkmarks until someone takes it seriously”, “sit bad and laugh” - the are doing the very definition of spreading FUD. (most people now days use FUD to mean fake news.) - if they are on this forum then if people react then they performed a successful amplification attack on joshs.

If any troll group comes after zcash forums it wont be because they think zec is a threat. it will be because kicking a zebra when it is down is fun and certain section of this community will react to it.

@DidiCC and @Vladimir01 seem to know whats up with this. edit: but we are not on the receiving end.

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dude that wrote that piece has obviously been reading a lot of dissident right literature. no doubt about that. can tell the author doesn’t have a deep understanding of the memetics part though. he wasn’t one of the magicians that memed bitcoin into existence.

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never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. :wink:

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Don’t worry I’m discerning, in fact until just recently I hadn’t flagged anything in months
We’re here because things ARE broken right? I also wish it weren’t so but I and like so many of you am also not content to sit around and wish it fixed

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Cryptocurrency a very appealing world : reinventing money … it can certainly drive people crazy.

There is quite some bad rap about zcash and it can be quite difficult not to be affected by it, or by the price…

But I like to remember that privacy is key. I can’t imagine any single company dealing with bitcoin or any other non private cryptocurrency for serious transactions.

I still think we’re at an early age of pure speculation… people buy bitcoin because it is the first, and we easily refer to bitcoin instead of cryptocurrencies because it is a better known term.
What is frightening is loads of people saying that it’s private enough, or hear bitcoin maximalists being 100% closed about any other project, being aggressive, or not being able use any valid technical argument. Or blindly rejecting 100% of the arguments from known economists like Nouriel Roubini.

Here at least, people are open to critic, and focus on the not so shiny essential and core features of what digital money should be.

Difficult to remember this sometimes and sad to see the price reflects the general feeling of the people. But the general crowd can be wrong, especially in this world where people buy based on big flashy news …

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I think OP is spot-on. I don’t think the environment here is conducive to any kind of healthy discussion. The results speak for themselves.

That said, maybe this problem has has a silver lining. There’s no reason to attack unless ppl percieve a threat or opportunity associated with Zcash. That’s a symptom of doing something big and important that could uproot existing power structures.

<3

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Can moderators close this thread?

Nothing to do with Zcash!

@brian This thread is not in violation of the forum rules. https://forum.zcashcommunity.com/faq

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I believe you are taking bitstein the wrong way.

I listened to that talk of his on YouTube. Essentially, what he says is:

  1. Not everyone on social media who asks questions to you are trying to learn from you. There are people who are concern-trolling, or trying to reinforce their own beliefs no matter how much time you take to answer them.
  2. Being nice and talking soft takes time and drains energy. These two resources are scarce within a person and should be deployed strategically.
  3. Corollary of first and second points, one must apply “selective discourse”. That means, selecting whom to engage in intellectual conversation (this is where you construct your arguments and weigh the ideas and try to reach objective truth) and whom to troll back (these are mainly other shitcoin shillers or “journalists” with secret agenda who parrot some ideas just because they have stake in them).

So, no. Bitstein is not calling for a general trolling everyone out, at least not as I understand him.

That level of seemingly “over-sensitivity” rubs me off as cheap virtue signalling, to be honest, and is just repulsive to me.

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