Crypto Currency

Jigsaw Bought a Russian Twitter Troll Campaign as an Experiment

Internet Research Agency, an entire company housed on multiple floors of a corporate building in St. Petersburg, concocting propaganda at the Kremlin's bidding. But a targeted troll campaign today can come much cheaper—as little as $250, says Andrew Gully, a research manager at Alphabet subsidiary Jigsaw. He knows because that's the price Jigsaw paid for…

Internet Research Agency, an entire company housed on multiple floors of a corporate building in St. Petersburg, concocting propaganda at the Kremlin’s bidding. But a targeted troll campaign today can come much cheaper—as little as $250, says Andrew Gully, a research manager at Alphabet subsidiary Jigsaw. He knows because that’s the price Jigsaw paid for one last year.

As part of research into state-sponsored disinformation that it undertook in the spring of 2018, Jigsaw set out to test just how easily and cheaply social media disinformation campaigns, or “influence operations,” could be bought in the shadier corners of the Russian-speaking web. In March 2018, after negotiating with several underground disinformation vendors, Jigsaw analysts went so far as to hire one to carry out an actual disinformation operation, assigning the paid troll service to attack a political activism website Jigsaw had itself created as a target.

In doing so, Jigsaw demonstrated just how low the barrier to entry for organized, online disinformation has become. It’s easily within the reach of not just governments but private individuals. Critics, though, say that the company took its trolling research a step too far, and further polluted social media’s political discourse in the process.

“Let’s say I want to wage a disinformation campaign to attack a political opponent or a company, but I don’t have the infrastructure to create my own Internet Research Agency,” Gully told WIRED in an interview, speaking publicly about Jigsaw’s year-old disinformation experiment for the first time. “We wanted to see if we could engage with someone who was willing to provide this kind of assistance to a political actor … to buy services that directly discredit their political opponent for very low cost and with no tooling or resources required. For us, it’s a pretty clear demonstration these capabilities exist, and there are actors comfortable doing this on the internet.”

Trolls Behind the Counter

In early 2018, Jigsaw hired a security firm to sniff around Russian-language black-market and gray-market web forums for disinformation-for-hire services. (That company asked WIRED not to name it, to preserve its ability to work on underground forums.) Browsing sites like Exploit, Club2Crd, WWH, and Zloy, the security firm’s researchers say they didn’t find explicit offers of trolling or disinformation campaigns for sale, but plenty of related schemes like fake followers, paid retweets, and black hat search engine optimization. The team guessed, though, that more awaited beneath the surface.

“If we look at this as window shopping, we hypothesized that if someone was selling fake likes in the window, there’s probably something else behind the counter they might be willing to do,” says Gully. When researchers for the security firm Jigsaw had hired started chatting discreetly with those vendors, they found that a few did in fact offer mass-scale social media posting on political subjects as an unlisted service.

“That … is an extremely controversial and risky thing to do.”

Thomas Rid, Johns Hopkins University

Before it bought one of those paid trolling campaigns, Jigsaw realized that it first needed a target. So together with its hired security firm, Jigsaw created a website—seeded with blog posts and comments they’d written to make it appear mor

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Crypto Currency

Crypto exchange Binance challenges Facebook’s Libra with its own platform

Facebook’s Libra hasn’t even properly launched yet (and it won’t for many more months), and competitors are already cropping up.  Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges by volume, has announced Project Venus, an initiative to create localized stablecoins — cryptocurrencies whose value is pegged to that of an asset such as gold or…


Facebook’s Libra hasn’t even properly launched yet (and it won’t for many more months), and competitors are already cropping up. 

Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges by volume, has announced Project Venus, an initiative to create localized stablecoins — cryptocurrencies whose value is pegged to that of an asset such as gold or the U.S. dollar — all across the globe. 

Like Facebook’s Libra, Venus is an open blockchain project, and Binance is seeking partners among governments and corporations to create stablecoins that will “empower developed and developing countries to spur new currencies.”

But unlike Libra, whose announcement was supported by a hefty amount of documentation, the details about Project Venus are scarce and boil down to a short a

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Crypto Currency

The Serious Money Is Warming to Bitcoin

buried in a vault under a mountain in the Swiss Alps? Xapo has offered that as a service to wealthy investors, for free. Coinbase, best known for its popular cryptocurrency exchange, prefers elaborate key-printing rituals along with a Faraday cage. Anchorage, an Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup, promises easy-access digital storage with some cryptographic voodoo. And now…

buried in a vault under a mountain in the Swiss Alps? Xapo has offered that as a service to wealthy investors, for free. Coinbase, best known for its popular cryptocurrency exchange, prefers elaborate key-printing rituals along with a Faraday cage. Anchorage, an Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup, promises easy-access digital storage with some cryptographic voodoo. And now old-school firms like Fidelity and Bakkt, which shares an owner with the New York Stock Exchange, are jumping into the fray with storage solutions of their own.

The aim behind all these sophisticated security arrangements: wooing Wall Street.

Gregory Barber covers cryptocurrency, blockchain, and artificial intelligence for WIRED.

A key property of crypto is that it’s proven a pretty dang easy target for thieves. Whether it’s North Korea hammering crypto businesses around the world or an exchange founder absconding with cash, vulnerabilities are abundant. For the crypto industry, that’s not a good look, especially when it comes to institutional investors—pensions and hedge funds and university endowments—for whom there are major consequences when breaches occur. For them, it’s not just a good idea to nail down the furniture, it’s the law.

This week, the still-fringe world of crypto custody saw a spike in activity. Late Thursday, Coinbase’s custody arm purchased the institutional business of rival Xapo for a reported $55 million. The deal wasn’t a surprise, following reports this spring that Coinbase had outbid Fidelity Digital Assets, which started offering custody to clients in March. Then on Friday, Bakkt announced that it had received approval to offer bitcoin futures in September, following months of regulatory delays.

So is crypto the next big thing in institutional investment, or is this fighting over scraps? For now, crypto custody still involves a relatively small pool of money. Coinbase got a boost earlier this month when Grayscale Investments moved its $2

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Crypto Currency

Everything coming to Hulu in September 2019

It’s back-to-school season! Whether you’re hitting the books or working your 9-to-5, we’re all looking for the right movies and shows to procrastinate with this September.  Thankfully, Hulu’s got it covered. Over the month, film favorites 27 Dresses, Basic Instinct, Evil Dead, Juno, Lethal Weapon, Ocean’s Eleven, The Goonies, and The Matrix will begin streaming…


It’s back-to-school season! Whether you’re hitting the books or working your 9-to-5, we’re all looking for the right movies and shows to procrastinate with this September. 

Thankfully, Hulu’s got it covered. Over the month, film favorites27 Dresses, Basic Instinct, Evil Dead, Juno, Lethal Weapon, Ocean’s Eleven, The Goonies,andThe Matrixwill begin streaming alongside complete TV collectionslike American Horror Story: ApocalypseandThe PurgeSeason 1. 

Looking for some fresh fall TV? As always, Hulu will be airing tons of network series premieres, includingThis Is UsSeason 4,Grey’s AnatomySeason 16, andBob’s BurgersSeason 10.

Check out everything coming to and going from Hulu in September 2019 below.

Top Pick:Untouchable(2019)

Filmmaker Ursula Macfarlane looks back on the rise and fall of Harvey Weinstein in this new documentary on the #MeToo movement. 

Set to examine the corporate environment that allowed for Weinstein’s rampant abuse of women,Untouchablepromises to address the topic through a new lens. Survivors share their stories alongside analysts, journalists, insiders, and enablers well-versed in the internationally discussed scandal as Weinstein awaits trial.

Untouchablepremieres on Hulu 9/2.

Movies

27 Dresses(9/1)
50 First Dates(9/1)
A Dog and Pony Show(9/1)
A Guy Thing(9/1)
A.R.C.H.I.E 2: Mission Impawsible(9/1)
After the Screaming Stops(9/1)
Against the Wild 2(9/1)
All Dogs Go to Heaven 2(9/1)
An Everlasting Piece(9/1)
Aniara(9/19)
Anthropoid(9/2)
Banking on Bitcoin(9/1)
Basic Instinct(9/1)
Bigfoot Country(9/1)
Blown Away(9/1)
Bolden(9/3)
Breaking Away(9/1)
Crypto(9/19)
Curious George(9/16)
Curious George: A Royal Monkey(9/10)
Demolition Man(9/1)
Destiny Turns on the Radio(9/1)
Disturbing Behavior(9/1)
Doctor Dolittle(9/1)
Emma(9/1)
Evil Dead(9/1)
Evil Dead II(9/1)
Exposed(9/1)
Failure to Launch(9/1)
Far from Home(9/1)
Ferngully: The Last Rainforest(9/1)
Firstborn(9/1)
Flashback(9/1)
From Mexico with Love(9/1)
Heist(9/1)
Hercules(9/1)
High-Rise(9/1)
Hotel Mumbai(9/9)
I, Frankenstein(9/1)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers(9/1)
Jersey Girl(9/1)
Juno(9/1)
Kicking and Screaming(9/4)
Lethal Weapon(9/1)
Lethal Weapon 2(9/1)
Lethal Weapon 3(9/1)
Lethal Weapon 4(9/1)
Liar, Liar(9/1)
Lost in Space(9/1)
Man on a Ledge(9/1)
Matriarch(9/2)
Miami Vice(9/1)
Mommie Dearest(9/1)
Monsters at Large(9/1)
Mr. Mom(9/1)
Ocean’s Eleven(9/1)
Ocean’s Thirteen(9/1)
Ocean’s Twelve(9/1)
Open Season(9/1)
Open Season 2(9/1)
Open Season 3(9/1)
Open Season: Sca

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Crypto Currency

Shoot-‘Em-Up Videogames Don’t Warp Minds—Big Tech Does

Speaking from the White House to a grieving nation, the president made the case. “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” Trump said. “This includes the gruesome and grizzly videogames that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We…

Speaking from the White House to a grieving nation, the president made the case. “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” Trump said. “This includes the gruesome and grizzly videogames that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to be begun immediately. Cultural change is hard, but each of us can choose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every human life.”

Noam Cohen


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About

Noam Cohen is a journalist and author ofThe Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball, which uses the history of computer science and Stanford University to understand the libertarian ideas promoted by tech leaders. While working forThe New York Times, Cohen wrote some of the earliest articles about Wikipedia, bitcoin, Wikileaks, and Twitter. He lives with his family in Brooklyn.

Ironies abound. For example, right after offering condolences about the El Paso shooting, and before he would need to offer condolences about Dayton, Trump posed with a mixed-martial-arts fighter, Colby Covington, wishing him good luck via Twitter in pummeling his opponent the next day.

And let’s not forget Trump’s smirking response to a Florida rally-goer who suggested that the way to stop illegal immigration was to shoot immigrants. “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that stuff,” the President of the United States said.

Genuine cultural change would have to begin by rejecting such comments, which makes Trump an especially ineffective critic of videogames. Yet stop to consider a shoot-’em-up game, where you are “doing” heinous things. In the case ofGrand Theft Auto V—the highest-grossing media title of all time, at $6 billion over nearly six years—players routinely commit violence against women and use torture in addition to the regular stalking and shooting.

One could be forgiven for seeing a bad influence there. It seems intuitively obvious that it could lead to violence in t

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