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.

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Filed Under: comedy, dhs, maine, satire, terrorist content, terrorist threat
Companies: tiktok


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  1. icon
    Vidiot (profile), 6 Aug 2020 @ 6:35am

    I hear there's a moose on TikTok who reveals Bill Gates' role in the COVID conspiracy while busting a hot move... hello, MIAC?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    MathFox, 6 Aug 2020 @ 6:45am

    Facts optional

    It is the sad state of The States that:

    • facts are optional
    • science is only accepted when it matches belief
    • blue lives still matter more than black
    • critical thinking is discouraged
    • patriotism is nurtured
    • armed forces are used against protesters
    • and Trump still is da man

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Baron von Robber, 6 Aug 2020 @ 6:58am

    I would opt to say "nationalism is nurtured".
    Patriotism is earned. Nationalism is zealotry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2020 @ 7:07am

    Re: Facts optional

    Except it's worse than "blue lives matter more than black lives". In fact it's usually "blue feelings matter more than black lives".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2020 @ 8:44am

    Re:

    "Patriotism is earned"
    I'll bite - how so?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Aug 2020 @ 8:54am

    'If it doesn't fit the narrative it doesn't exist.'

    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."

    Admitting that would run counter to the narrative currently put forth by the Dear Leader and his cultists that it's the people against him that are the problem, that it's those nefarious antifa that are the threats and those on his side are all calm, rational individuals so that's a non-starter, especially given that Trump has made it very clear that contradicting him or anything less that complete 'loyalty' will be punished with the sternest tantrum he can come up with.

    They saw something that matched what they wanted to and/or were told to believe so they believed it and treated it as dead serious, and anything that doesn't match those categories will be dismissed outright.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Aug 2020 @ 8:57am

    Re: Re:

    In that much like respect for a person respect for a country should depend on it having earned it and therefore being worthy of respect?

    That's the first idea that comes to mind for me anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2020 @ 9:18am

    gullible or hoping it was a real threat so as to be able to go all in, guns ready etc etc?

    'given our privacy and security incompetence leaves us vulnerable on countless fronts'
    that's intentional so the security services can ignore everything and go for our jugulars and politicians can carry on getting 'campaign contributions'!

    unless there are these 'made up threats' the security services wouldn't have anything to do, anyone to harass or anyone to use as practice dummies!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2020 @ 9:57am

    That's the trump agenda tik equals China equals threat, look over here,
    God forbid we should do anything about iot. Sim card hacking, the mediocre state of federal and military security,

    I read an article about tik Tok. A teen says so what if tik Tok is being monitored,
    I give services my data and I get the chance to make fans and communicate with my peers
    Every app is use selling my data and monitoring my use
    Tik Tok is like cb radio for 2020

    Anyone can use it.
    It's to some extent like YouTube a public forum
    Every month there's a site hacked millions users private data leaked
    It would be naive to think that nsa fbi and China are not collecting that data for future use

    Worrying about tik Tok in America is almost comical
    considering the mediocre state of security and the lowvalue companys place on securing user data
    I think the average American teen using apps on a smartphone knows they have very little privacy
    if the use Facebook insta youtube
    All those millionare streamers on twitch or tik Tok
    influencers are not too worried about privacy

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2020 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I like your answer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    ECA (profile), 6 Aug 2020 @ 12:59pm

    Isnt there a song..

    about paranoia??

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Aug 2020 @ 3:13pm

    Re: 'If it doesn't fit the narrative it doesn't exist.'

    Well yeah, just look at Ted Cruz' "hearing" on protest violence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2020 @ 12:44am

    Re: Isnt there a song..

    It’s about you

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Aug 2020 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Facts optional

    "In fact it's usually "blue feelings matter more than black lives"."

    If only.

    The main issue - and what the alt-right is so upset about whenever they hear "Black Lives Matter" is that for a significant proportion of the US citizenry - and quite a lot of the US police forces - black lives don't matter at all.

    THAT is why the BLM slogan keeps driving the bigots up the wall in hysterics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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