How this would work in practice would be that these government employees would be paid to find people who spout "conspiracy theories", and they would comment there. Consider blogs in the liberty sphere; there's no doubt that a Big Government guy like Sunstein would believe that anyone who values personal liberty is a conspiracy theorist and potential terrorist who should be targeted (I don't think I'm going out on much of a limb here is attributing this belief to Sunstein). They could post blog comments disagreeing with aspects of the stories on the blog, trying to break the credibility of the reports, and the trustworthiness of the story.
It can now be confirmed that this is actually going on. At least in the UK, in documents leaked by Edward Snowden, and reported by Glen Greenwald, formerly of the Guardian and now with FirstLook.org. I urge everyone to read that piece, and see the formerly very classified documents detailing how the UK's GCHQ has given life to Cass Sunstein's wet dream of making disagreement with the government go away by "nudging" everyone's behavior. (And does it seem just a little too convenient that Bamster put Sunstein in charge of the oversight committee looking at whether or not the NSA has been "doing us wrong"? )
Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”Now that we know for sure it's going on (as if we doubted), perhaps some of the bickering in the III-per community needs to be looked at as tactics being used against us. I'm sure I'm way too small potatoes for them to care about dropping by here, but think of the big guys. I personally think I've seen this sort of thing happening on some big commercial sites, like the Blaze or PJ Media. Have you ever noticed how quickly comments about anything veer from the subject at hand to straight political diatribe, or ad hominem attacks on the people involved?
By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.
I'm not suggesting there aren't real and legitimate disagreements between members of the Liberty / III-per movement, and I don't want to imply any dissent indicates the commenter is a stooge. These things always happen. But we have a government regulator who has admitted in open press that he wants to do this, even going as far as false flag operations, and now it turns out to be verified that it is actively going on. It would be silly to think it can't be happening here, too. Plus, having an argument with a troll has a whole new meaning when the troll is getting paid to argue with you, doesn't it?