South Korean Spy Agency Allegedly Tried To Influence Presidential Vote - By Posting 1.2 Million Tweets
from the vote-vote-vote dept
Twitter is still a young medium, and it's interesting to see yet more uses being found for it. Here's a rather dubious one from South Korea:
Agents from the National Intelligence Service of South Korea posted more than 1.2 million Twitter messages last year to try to sway public opinion in favor of Park Geun-hye, then a presidential candidate, and her party ahead of elections in 2012, state prosecutors said on Thursday.
As the New York Times post quoted above goes on to explain, the whole story is rather murky and complicated. One of the curious claims being made by the Korean spy agency accused of interfering with the election process is the following:
The intelligence service said its online messages were posted as part of normal psychological warfare operations against North Korea, which it said used the Internet to criticize South Korean government policies, forcing its agents to defend them online. In a statement on Thursday, it also accused the prosecutors of citing as their evidence online postings that had nothing to do with its agents.
Even if that's true, other departments may have gone beyond simply defending the government of South Korea to attack its political rivals:
In a separate inquiry, military investigators are looking into South Korea's Cyberwarfare Command after it was revealed last month in Parliament that some of its officials had conducted a similar online campaign against opposition candidates. The Cyberwarfare Command was created in 2010 to guard South Korea against hacking threats from North Korea.
That raises a very real problem with these kinds of online operations: they can easily be misused for purely political purposes, and oversight is easy to evade, since it's all about moving bits around. Of course, exactly the same could be said about the blanket surveillance being carried out by the NSA and GCHQ....