More than a year ago we wrote about a report on a trove of documents obtained from the Department of Homeland Security Theatre™ via a law suit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The documents revealed that DHS analysts were scrutinizing online comments that “reflect adversely” on the U.S. government, and helpfully included a 2011 manual of key words and search terms used by our own government to spy on its citizens’ social media and other online activity. (As we now know, DHS is not the only organization doing the panty sniffing. But these are all professionals, people. If they say terrorists routinely post their intentions on Facebook, who are we to doubt this?)
As I said at the time:
As long as we’re all paying for this sprawling enormous, completely harmless, entirely legal and rigorously accountable security apparatus to monitor the ‘net, the Palace may as well get something useful out of it. Alexander Higgens has taken the trouble to cull from the documents all of the words that will get you flagged by Big Brother. So in an effort to get hundreds of DHS analysts to visit my blog today, I am posting them all below.
And post them all, I did.
In response, one of my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ was inspired to capture the words and donate half his lunch break(!) to develop an elegant utility he called the “Paranoiafier.” It works like this:
1) Enter your text into the top box
2) Press the ‘Paranoiafy’ button
3) Copy your paranoiafied text from the bottom box, then use it in your blog posts, forum comments, letters to the editor, facebook postings, or any other place to which you’d like to attract the attention of The True Defenders of the Homeland, while simultaneously rendering whatever you’re writing basically unreadable.
P.S. – You didn’t get this here.
How to up your blog’s hit count on the government dime.
And the paranoiafied version is:
How Cyber attack to Sleet up Pakistan your Shooting blog’s Shelter-in-place hit Ammonium nitrate count Brute forcing on Nuclear threat the Storm government Earthquake dime. Narcos
At this point, we would like to pause to give a warm Palace welcome to our new Loyal Readers™ from NSA! Also: Israel! Shalom!
The Paranoiafier was vividly brought to mind this morning when we read an excellent Op-Ed in The New York Times by Brazilian author and columnist Vanessa Barbara. Entitled Have a Nice Day, N.S.A., Barbara recaps the outrage of her president at the revelations that NSA has been spying on her personal calls and emails, capturing the communications of ordinary Brazilian citizens and engaging in corporate espionage of the Brazilian oil company Petrobras (presumably on behalf of America’s Owners). But then she writes this:
It has become something of a joke among my friends in Brazil to, whenever you write a personal e-mail, include a few polite lines addressed to the agents of the N.S.A., wishing them a good day or a Happy Thanksgiving. Sometimes I’ll add a few extra explanations and footnotes about the contents of the message, summarizing it and clarifying some of the Portuguese words that could be difficult to translate.
Other people have gone so far as to send nonsensical e-mails just to confuse N.S.A. agents. For example: first use some key words to attract their surveillance filters, like “chemical brothers,” “chocolate bombs” or “stop holding my heart hostage, my emotions are like a blasting of fundamentalist explosion” (one of my personal favorites, inspired by an online sentence-generator designed to confound the N.S.A.).
The sentence-generator she mentions is called Hello, NSA: press a button and it generates sentences peppered with words flagged by government filters. E.g.:
In one possible future, terrorists exploited the weapons grade plutonium the Doc stashed in his DeLorean.
It differs from the Paranoiafier in that the result is not based on one’s own text input; it is similar to the Paranoiafier in that the result is fucking hilarious. Barbara suggests one first capture the Hello, NSA text, and then:
…write indiscriminately to friends and acquaintances about serious stuff like: how Doc Brown stole plutonium from Libyan nationalists, or why poor Godzilla had to attack the City of New York.
This is, of course, in the very finest tradition of political mockery, and the Palace most heartily approves. Bravo, Brasil.
Like most Brazilians, I was annoyed to learn that the American government might have been gathering data from my computer and phone calls. But on the bright side, I am hoping that it has kept a backup of my files, since a few months ago I realized that I could no longer find an important video anywhere in my computer. (Mr. Obama, if you’re reading this, please send me the file “summer2012.wmv” as soon as you can.)