Gullible Maine & DHS Intel Officers Believed Teen TikTok Video Was Serious Terrorist Threat
from the this-just-keeps-getting-dumber dept
We’ve been noting for a few weeks that much of the hysteria surrounding TikTok is kind of dumb. For one, banning TikTok doesn’t really do much to thwart Chinese spying, given our privacy and security incompetence leaves us vulnerable on countless fronts. Most of the folks doing the heaviest pearl clutching over TikTok have opposed efforts at any meaningful internet privacy rules, have opposed funding election security reform, and have been utterly absent or apathetic in the quest for better security and privacy practices over all (the SS7 flaw, cellular location data scandals, etc.).
Even the idea that banning TikTok meaningfully thwarts Chinese spying given the country’s total lack of scruples, bottomless hacking budget, and our own security and privacy incompetence (the IOT comes quickly to mind) is fairly laughable. Banning TikTok to thwart Chinese spying is kind of like spitting at a thunderstorm in the hopes of preventing rain. Genuine privacy and security reform starts by actually engaging in serious privacy and security reform, not (waves in the general direction of Trump’s bizarre, extortionist, TikTok agenda) whatever the hell this is supposed to be.
I see the entire TikTok saga as little more than bumbling, performative nonsense by wholly unserious people more interested in money, politics, leverage, and power than privacy or national security. Case in point: desperate to create the idea that TikTok is a serious threat, a new document leak reveals that the Department of Homeland Security has spent a good chunk of this year circulating the claim that a nineteen year-old girl was somehow “training terrorists” via a comedy video she posted to TikTok.
According to Mainer, the video in question was sent to police departments across Maine by the Maine Information and Analysis Center (MIAC), part of the DHS network of so-called “Fusion Centers” tasked with sharing and and distributing information about “potential terrorist threats.” The problem: when you dig through the teen in question’s TikTok posts, it’s abundantly clear after about four minutes of watching that she’s not a threat. The tweet itself appears to have been deleted, but it too (duh) wasn’t anything remotely resembling a genuine terrorist threat or security risk:
“In the TikTok clip, Weirdsappho first displays a satirical tweet from the stand-up comedian Jaboukie Young-White, a correspondent for The Daily Show, that ?thanks? police for ?bringing in the army? to combat peaceful protests against police brutality. The tweet encourages protestors to throw ?water balloons filled w sticky liquids (esp some sort of sugar/milk/syrup combo)? at tanks, in order to ?support our troops.”
And yet, after the clip got picked up and spread around by a handful of Qanon conspiracy cultists, it was, in turn, picked up and spread around by utterly unskeptical and uncritical agents at DHS and MIAC, who have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to far right extremism (for what should be obvious reasons), but can be easily worked into a lather where the vile menace “antifa” is concerned:
“Fusion Centers like MIAC, which is headquartered in Augusta and run by the Maine State Police, are engaged in a pattern of spreading misinformation, based on far-right rumors, that raise fears of leftist violence at peaceful protests against police brutality. Earlier this month, Mainer exposed how two social media posts by unreliable sources became fodder for official warnings about anarchist ?plots? to leave stacks of bricks at protest sites for use as weapons against police.
In a July 15 article based on the BlueLeaks files, The Intercept revealed how DHS and its fusion centers are hyping far-fetched plots by alleged anti-fascist ?antifa? activists despite evidence that far-right extremists pose actual threats to law enforcement personnel and protesters.”
The idea that law enforcement and “intelligence officials” can’t (or just won’t) differentiate between joking political teen videos and serious terrorism threats should be terrifying to anybody with a whit of common sense. But it’s not just part and parcel for a law enforcement and intel community that apparently can’t behave or think objectively, it’s par for the course for this wave of TikTok hysteria that’s not based on much in the way of, you know, facts.