OSINT Community and their India conundrum

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by ezsasa, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    First i will start with the articles pertaining to the topic...

    CONCERNED USERS WORRY AS TWITTER SUSPENDS SEVERAL ‘OSINT’ NEWS ACCOUNTS

    A group of popular Twitter accounts that tweet about open-source intelligence (OSINT) and generally try to highlight developing and breaking news stories were suspended on Saturday night for unspecified reasons. They join a growing list of account suspensions – sometimes for political reasons, but also for more arbitrary reasons that have alarmed users of the popular social media platform.

    Users feared that censorship or targeted complaints by a foreign government had resulted in the suspension. Steve Lookneer, a News Anchor at Agenda Free TV pointed out that an account called Beep Delete was suspended on Saturday night. An account named Intel Doge (@Inteldoge) wrote “welcome to Twitter, report on things that people don’t like, get mass reported, get banned.”

    The concern began when an account named Elint News (@ELINTNews) was suspended. “This is a clear attack against the OSINT community,” wrote Intel Crab, another similar news gathering account. They began to tweet under the hashtag
    “#UnsuspendElintNews.” Many of these accounts have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers and they tend to be helpful in examining information when news is breaking, such as during the Gulf oil tanker attack on June 13. Some of them also closely follow conflicts in Israel and India.

    “If you tolerate this, then your intel account will be next,” noted an account called Numbers Stations, which tweets about military communications activity. Calibre Obscura, which tweets about arms, also expressed concern. “Happened to me twice. It’ll happen again and Twitter continues to do a terrible job of decision-making regarding account suspension. I was never told what tweets had broken any Twitter rules.” This account noted that OSINT accounts were vulnerable if someone mass complained about one of their tweets. BNL News said their partner @TheUpdaterTU was also suspended, but some speculated this was due to reporting AP articles.
    Another account, @NatSecJeff wrote that Elint News received notification that some tweets were in violation of Indian law. Other accounts apparently received similar notes. There was speculation that the suspension might also be due to having multiple accounts.
    In some cases, government pressure appears to have ended with accounts being suspended or targeted by online mobs. In February, an account in Indonesia that highlighted gay rights had its Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts closed. According to The Independent, conservatives had targeted the account and the country’s Ministry of Communications labeled it “pornographic.”

    Social media companies have been accused of complying with authoritarian states and their laws requesting that certain accounts be banned. In Pakistan, VOA reported in November that government critics received warnings from social media companies. Tweets considered blasphemous were even blocked at one point in 2014.

    Hundreds of accounts have retweeted calls to restore the Elint News account. “Another unwarranted and unjustified suspension,” writes one user. It appears that many feel concerned that the unexplained suspension fits a pattern of these types of suspensions of normal accounts. Users have also shared their own experience of being told by Twitter that foreign governments want their tweets removed.

    https://www.jpost.com/International...r-suspends-several-OSINT-news-accounts-592663
     
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  3. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    Twitter suspends OSINT handles for showing positions of IAF aircraft during Balakot crisis

    New Delhi: Twitter has suspended several handles which had used open-source intelligence (OSINT) to put out details of Indian military aircraft, other than fighters, on 26 and 27 February, the day of the Balakot strikes and Pakistan’s retaliatory action respectively.

    The social media giant has told handles like the popular @ELINTNews, that they’ve been suspended for “violating Indian laws”.

    The move has led to speculation that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is behind it. However, sources in the IAF remained tight-lipped about this development, with some also expressing ignorance.

    Some accounts also faced ‘shadow bans’, which prevent users from searching and finding tweets by the suspended user or his/her account. One can access these only when the specific URL is typed in the browser, or a link to the account is provided.

    Of the many accounts suspended since the weekend, @IntelCrab has become active again.

    Why the crackdown
    During the increased tensions between India and Pakistan in February in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack and the IAF strike on Balakot, many Twitter handles had put out live movements of both Pakistan and Indian military aircraft, including tankers and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS).

    These handles depended on websites like www.flightradar24.com, which provide real time tracking facilities for almost every flight in the world.

    Sources in the IAF said the force was surprised when it realised its assets were visible on various handles.

    Usually, military aircraft switch to encrypted military transponders when in operation, but when flying in civil air space, ‘civil mode’ is switched on in certain areas or phases of flight.

    Handles not based in India
    The social media accounts in question have become a big resource for real time monitoring of military aircraft movement across the world, especially in times of conflict. These accounts are not based in India.

    The letter sent to @ELINTNews, accessed by ThePrint, said “Twitter has received official correspondence” regarding the handle.

    “The correspondence claims that your account and the following tweet is in violation of Indian law,” the letter said.

    The move comes after certain media reports accused these handles of being run by Pakistan’s ISI, in the aftermath of the 27 February ‘retaliatory strikes’ by Pakistan, a day after India conducted air strikes on a terror camp in Balakot.

    The article was based on the claims of Hyderabad-based media house ‘GreatGameIndia’, which now claims it was the Indian Army that had ordered the crackdown on the handles in question.

    https://theprint.in/india/twitter-s...of-iaf-aircraft-during-balakot-crisis/251488/
     
  4. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    The news article which triggered this nonsense....
    ========================
    Retired Pakistani officers behind ‘fake news’

    Hyderabad: An independent social media tracking operation that commenced after the February 26 Balakot air strikes has found that there are at least eight Twitter handles that pose to be ‘independent observers’ behind Pakistani defence lines but are spreading unconfirmed news, many at times fake.

    It was from these handles that fake reports on the death of Jaish-e-Mohammed Masood Azhar originated, besides the alleged Indian attacks on Fort Abbas and Sialkot in Pakistan.

    An investigation by ‘GreatgameIndia’, based in Hyderabad, found a couple of these handles being managed by social media intelligence (Socintel) operators under the guidance of retired Pakistani generals.

    On March 2, the Twitter handles put out reports saying Masood Azhar had been killed in the Balakot air strikes. The ‘story’ was picked up by many media houses who quoted “top intel sources”.

    The source of the story was later detected to be a blogpost, ‘Masood Azhar is DEAD: Confirmed; along with a top rank former ISI officer’, which was originally floated by the website ‘Times Prime’.

    Another instance was the fake news that the Indian Air Force had carried out another air strike, this time across the international border near Fort Abbas in the Cholistan desert in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur district.

    The information was spread by a handle F Jeffery (timestamp 4.01 pm, March 4). India denied the report.

    On the day of the air strikes, a Twitter handle reported artillery firing from across the Line of Control in Sialkot. Mr Shelley Kasli, co-founder of GreatgameIndia, said, “We began tracking certain suspicious Twitter handles after the Pulwama attack. They remained low until the Balakot air strikes. The morning after, loads of (unconfirmed) information was being pumped in through these shady networks, posing as neutral observers from behind enemy lines.”

    Mr Kasli said, “Certain Indian journalists interacted with these handles and the information was reported by their media houses quoting ‘top intel sources’. When their followers flagged them on Twitter regarding the suspicious nature of the information the journalists were forced to change the line.”

    “These are not just random false alarms or over-enthusiastic tweeting, considering it was a sustained effort after Balakot. It is seen that this is primarily been done to create an environment of confusion and chaos, to escalate tensions between India and Pakistan and India and China,” Mr Kasli said.

    A Twitter handle, ‘KashmiriIntel’, was spreading such information on threats to national security, that the Army complained to Twitter, which subsequently blocked it. The information, regarding by the Army as harmful to the country, is being spread by another handles.

    On the claim that certain handles were managed by retired Pak generals, the investigators found that the account Faran Jeffery, who purported to be a neutral observer, was deputy director and head of the South Asia desk at the Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism, a think tank headquartered in London. What is not mentioned is that he is associated with a Pakistani national security think tank called CommandEleven.

    “CommandEleven is a Pakistani propaganda outfit created and directed by retired Pakistan Generals specialised in information warfare. Its new website https://www.commandeleven.com is down since the Pulwama attack,” Mr Kasli said.

    He said India was the target of sophisticated information warfare. “In the words of Lieutenant General H.S. Panag (retired) we lost the perception war in the first 60 hours. A huge chunk of the information originated from CommandEleven,” said Mr Kasli.

    https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nat...ired-pakistani-officers-behind-fake-news.html
     
  5. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    My observations on the topic:
    For the uninitiated, OSINT stands for Open source intel, which is basically a bunch of people who these days source their information from Non-MSM websites and on SM mostly by data analytical tools.

    i am sure they have their limited uses in real world geo-politics.
    i have to admit that i did not know that such a thing existed until Feb 14 bombing and it's aftermath, this whole banning of a couple of twitter handles piqued my interest couple of days back.

    can't say about their uses for rest of the world, but when it comes to India-Pakistan issues they are absolutely clueless. it looks like somehow over the years the their whole community's perspective on indo-pak issues is based on paki based or supported handles. For example there were 4 terror incidents yesterday, and none got shared by this community.

    and there was a theory floated by our boy natsecjeff that indian govt is responsible for suspending their account, and rest of them just went with it without even questioning why will Indian govt have jurisdiction over american twitter handles.

    interesting part was that for the entire two days there were hardly 10 india based handles which got involved in the conversation, many of them were sympathetic to the cause which is fine. there were just two indian handles doing a counter narrative. and as usual these two chaps suck at their communication skills.

    ideally you would think these "international" OSINT veterans who would recognise the difference between state sponsored co-ordinated attack on SM and a couple of handles frustrated about state of affairs in their OSINT community when it comes to india-pak issues, that the primary source of info in indo-pak issues are paki sourced. but no the OSINT "experts" used these kids to get street cred in their "community".
     
  6. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    For me the interesting realisation in this episode is how paki have managed to create a information black hole about pakistan within the OSINT community. ideally these OSINT communities are supposed to catch the news like paki army captains dying by falling in a ditch in Balochistan.

    India on the other hand is like an open book, we wash all our dirty linen in public and yet very few of the terror related incidents especially in J&K make it to the OSINT feeds.

    Gotta give it to ISI on this one, they are good at this.

    it's basically same tactic ISI uses with their journalists, but on SM.
     
  7. Bhumihar

    Bhumihar Jako Rakhe Saiyan Mar Sake Na Koi Senior Member

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    These osint can also be used to create war hysteria and misinformation.
    They most likley can also be hired to do this no doubt, we saw many of these during balakot scuffle.
    Tho this step to humble them a bit is very well appreciated.
     
  8. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    i don't think it worked, but let's see..
    One thing is for sure, their biases against india will continue...
     
  9. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    Just to add, the two twitter accounts about whom the whole fuss was made about are like news aggregators, i am not sure if they actually create OSINT. Others can correct me of i am wrong.
     
  10. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    Another possible flaw is this whole concept of OSINT..
    If pure data analysts who depend on algorithms and software to develop OSINT, there is a high probability they might get it wrong unless they have in-depth knowledge about the geography and people/groups involved in that particular theatre..


    Take Kashmir for example: most of the events happen in Sri nagar, Shopian, kulgaum and Ananthnag. Our news sources usually don’t mention the exact village or town but only release district info. If multiple events happen in the same district on the same day, the algorithm may presume it as one incident. Or a ignorant analyst might assume it as one incident even if algorithms generates the proper data.
     
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  11. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    The saga continues, I'll bet CNN and BBC will be on to this story by this evening.
    well played natsecjeff.
    ========================

    India Bullies Twitter Into Banning Accounts of American, British Students Thousands of Miles Away

    Twitter is warning a Texas college student that it might “be obliged to take action” after some of his tweets were ruled a national security threat by the government of India eight thousand miles away.

    The notice issued to 21-year-old Ryan Barenklau on Saturday is part of a crackdown on a group of open-source investigators who spend their days sifting through data and imagery to glean insights on regional conflicts around the world. Barenklau’s focus is primarily on Crimea and North Korea, but in May a journal in India wrongly claimed his account was part of a Pakistani disinformation ring.

    This month the Indian government formally demanded Twitter block Barenklau and other users named in the report under India’s powerful national security censorship law, according to interviews and copies of several of the Twitter notices shared with The Daily Beast by the recipients. Twitter has since suspended four of the accounts for unrelated violations of the company’s terms-of-service. The company declined to comment for this story.

    “It’s pretty disturbing,” said Danny O’Brien, director of strategy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “I think this is a consequence of social media companies responding to requests by governments they’re not in the same jurisdiction as, but also this increasing pressure to have social media platforms be the judges in deciding what is disinformation and what isn’t. They’re a lot quicker to take down original content about controversial or hot topics.”

    Bafflingly, the tweets India singled out as fake news are not only not fake, but they don’t concern the subcontinent at all. The five tweets cited in the warning to Barenklau include one commenting on a North Korean missile test, two tweets quoting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promising tough action against Iran, a video from the street protests in Hong Kong, and a tweet from last April embedded with CBS News footage of the fire then engulfing Paris’ Notre-Dame cathedral.

    A British student who tweets as “ElintNews” received the same notice on Friday citing his harmless tweets about the Sudan, Syrian and recent developments in the Gulf of Oman. “They had nothing to do with India and Pakistan,” he told The Daily Beast.

    The scattershot approach leads Barenklau, who spoke to The Daily Beast by phone, to suspect that India is borrowing a page from the copyright protection industry, using automation to churn out takedown notices in bulk. “What we think is going on is there’s some sort of mass campaign,” said Barenklau, a senior at Texas A&M who runs a small global affairs consultancy called Strategic Sentinel that does open-source research over Twitter. “The Indian government has obviously sent Twitter a list of accounts that they think ought to be banned.”

    Section 69A of India’s Information Technology Act gives the government the power to unilaterally order a block on any websites and accounts “in the interest of the defense of the country, its sovereignty and integrity, the security of the State” and for other reasons. According to Twitter’s most recent transparency report, the company received nine 69A demands from India’s technology ministry from July through December 2018, and in response issued regional blocks on 108 accounts and 22 tweets that kept them from being seen within India.

    The new crackdown appears to trace back to a report last month by the journal Great Game India that purported to expose a disinformation network buffeting India with fake news. The journal focused on a Pakistani open-source investigator named Faran Jeffery who serves as a deputy director for the British counter terrorism think tank ICTC, and tweets as “NatSecJeff.”

    Earlier this year Jeffery spun out a Twitter thread covering reports out of Pakistan's Bahawalpur district that the Indian Air Force had intruded into Pakistani air space and dropped a bomb in the desert outside Fort Abbas. His tweets surfaced local news articles, photos and social media posts from the region and included cautionary notes not typically seen in state-sponsored disinformation ops. “Unless we now get a statement from Pakistani military, it would be a good idea to remain skeptical about these reports since we don't know yet exactly what happened,” he wrote in one tweet.

    The Pakistani military later said there’d been no incursion by India. But Great Game India pegged Jeffery as a fake news operative working for Pakistan, citing some of his other tweets, and the fact that he previously worked for a Pakistani institute with military ties. In May, an Indian newspaper aired the journal’s findings under the headline “Retired Pak officers behind 'fake news,’” publishing a list of seven additional Twitter accounts that frequently share Jeffery’s tweets.

    The paper, citing Great Game India’s research, claimed all the accounts “have Pakistani roots.”

    In addition to a student in Texas and another in the U.K., one of those accounts belongs to Justin Peden, a 19-year-old college student in Tennessee who’s been tweeting about global hotspots for years as IntelCrab. “I’m currently majoring in finance and minoring in business,” Peden told The Daily Beast. “This is just a fun hobby I found. I love all things military. I’m an ROTC cadet. I’m interested in global affairs and over the years I’ve amassed an incredible network of contacts, closed and open source… It’s an irony being famed as a retired Pakistani general.”

    Twitter responds to 69A demands by blocking the account from being accessed within India’s borders, but also reviews the reported accounts for terms-of-service violations, and by all evidence applies a zero tolerance policy. Peden was suspended Monday morning on the grounds that he violated Twitter’s rules by maintaining “multiple accounts with overlapping use cases.” After he appealed and agreed to delete his personal-use Twitter account, the company restored ElintNews later that day. “It was the longest 10 hours of my life,” Peden said.

    India’s Ministry of Electronic & Information Technology didn’t respond to an email inquiry for this story. Reached by The Daily Beast over Twitter, the journal that named three students from the U.K., Tennessee and Texas as Pakistani trolls defended its methodology, but admitted it may have made some mistakes. “Yes, it could be possible but we do not know,” a spokesperson for Great Game India wrote.

    Despite the mixup, some of the targeted users say they’re looking forward to Twitter banning them in India, as it’s done with previous 69A demands. All of them described being bombarded with hateful tweets after being misidentified as Pakistani disinfo operators.

    The U.K.-based student who tweets as ElintNews spoke on condition of anonymity because he’s received death threats. “When you try to work hard and inform people what’s going on in the world you don’t expect to be threatened by random people online,” he said. “If we’re restricted within India it would be kind of a blessing to all of us.”
    https://www.thedailybeast.com/india...ican-british-students-using-censorship-law-15
     
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  12. Deathstar

    Deathstar Regular Member

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    Why are we even targetting these OSINT guys?they dont even have that much following , hardkh anyone sees their tweets , instead by doing this we are giving them free publicity
     
  13. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

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    You guys should have seen what Indian OSINT guys did exposing Pak facilities. They would have cried........:biggrin2:
     
  14. aarav

    aarav जय परशुराम‍।

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    These OSINT guys are doing propaganda ,serves them right,they got active as soon as ghafoora tweeted of balakot strike
     
  15. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Veteran Member Senior Member

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    eggjactly...
    may be that the inbred Journos latched on to them and spun own stories...throwing some chutiyens off balance!
    OSINT might have created an issue for "INVESTORS"
     
  16. Poseidon

    Poseidon Senior Member Senior Member

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    Now almost all the suspended accounts arr back and reinstated.

    @elintnews @intelcrab @inteldoge were never run by Pakistanis.

    Huge embarrassment for Indian Intel.


    Good thing is real Paki propaganda accounts like PCMD are still banned though.
     
  17. ezsasa

    ezsasa Senior Member Senior Member

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    There was never any indian intel involved..... Indian Govt was dragged into this because the kids wanted to be heroes. i am yet to see proof that indian govt was involved... They are saying "indian govt" was involved because of this mail they received. unless someone can get hold of this mail, so that mail header can be examined i am not convinced.
    if the mail is not authentic, then it means everybody got played.
    if the mail is authentic, then twitter is responsible for this mess. apparently one of the tweets mentioned in list is about Notre-dame fire. why would Indian govt be bothered about fire in paris?

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Darth Malgus

    Darth Malgus Senior Member Senior Member

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    I doubt they will be focusing much on Indian news anymore. As for Natsecjeff , people are taking him too seriously. And the Daily beast article seems like a huge pile of crap.
     
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  19. Absolut_Vodka

    Absolut_Vodka Regular Member

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    Is it true that some Paki twitter accounts are banned under Indian laws? Pakis writing back to twitter how Indian laws applies to a Paki, lol hilarious!!!!
     
  20. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Veteran Member Senior Member

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    Asif Ghafoor cautions against 'irresponsible, biased use of social media'
    "Irresponsible biased use of social media and vested negative trends can lead to misunderstandings/spats," said the director general (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), army's media wing, on Sunday.


    Gayfoora getting taste of OWN MOOJIK!
    Caww..Cawww
    https://www.dawn.com/news/1492659/a...inst-irresponsible-biased-use-of-social-media
     

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