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Survey answersA document leaved by Edward Snowden has revealed that British spies can manipulate online polls by tricking the world into thinking a video or webpage is going viral through the use of a collection of hacking tools, some of which have been specifically designed to spread misinformation.

This has been revealed in a leaked 2012 document provided by Snowden to .

According to this document which was leaked  to the Intercept – an online publication, the toolkit belongs to the U.S. National Security Agency’s British Counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters.

It includes the usual spy agency tools intended to protect the British government from terrorists, and the other tools specifically created to spread disinformation.

These tools and their specific functions are:

  • Underpass which lets the government change the outcome of online polls,
  • Bomb Bay that increases website hits and rankings,
  • Gestator provides amplification of a given message usually videos on given multimedia websites,
  • Gateway artificially increases traffic to a website, and finally
  • Slipstream that inflates page views and websites.

In addition to these, the government might also send mass text messages, emails, faxes and tailored instant messages. However, it is not yet clear if these are currently in use.

“This is nothing new– this is just a new way of doing it. These are all key pieces to war, especially if you want to win the hearts and minds of everyone out there. It may seem pretty nefarious, but under certain restrictions, it may make sense,” said David Kennedy, founder TrustedSec, a cyber security firm.

Contrary to David Kennedy, Jeremy Malcolm, a senior global policy analyst at the liberty-minded Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that if people think they can’t trust what’s gone viral on YouTube, it actually starts to undermine our trust in the Internet as a platform.

Source: CNN Money