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This brings a whole new meaning to “brigading” on social media

What is the 77th Brigade for? According to its own website, the mission of this unit of the British Army is to CHALLENGE THE DIFFICULTIES OF MODERN WARFARE. Despite the capital letters I do not feel hugely better informed. It continues,

We are a combined Regular and Army Reserve unit. Our aim is to challenge the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries.

Um, okay. I would not want the difficulties of modern warfare to go unchallenged. I would even be up for them challenging the easy bits of modern warfare while they’re at it. However, before I give my wholehearted support to “adapting behaviours of the opposing forces” I would like to know what adapting-without-a-to means in normal English. Is it us changing them or them changing us? The question is pertinent because according to a whistleblower who contacted the civil liberties organisation Big Brother Watch, the last part of the line about the target of the British Army’s behavioural adaptation squad being “opposing forces and adversaries” seems to have been quietly dropped.

This link allows you to download a Big Brother Watch report called Ministry of Truth: the secretive government units spying on your speech.

The key findings are:

  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Conservative MPs David Davis and Chris Green, high profile academics from the University of Oxford and University College London, and journalists including Peter Hitchens and Julia Hartley-Brewer, all had comments critical of the government analysed by anti-misinformation units.
  • Targeted speech included public criticism of the government’s pandemic response – particularly lockdown modelling and vaccine passports – as well as journalists’ criticism of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and MPs’ criticism of NATO
  • Soldiers from the Army’s 77th Brigade, tasked with “non-lethal psychological warfare”, collected tweets from British citizens posting about Covid-19 and passed them to central government – despite claiming operations were directed strictly overseas
  • A counter-misinformation unit pressured the Dept. of Health to attack newspapers for publishing articles analysing Covid-19 modelling that it feared would undermine compliance with pandemic restrictions.
  • MPs and journalists were featured in “vaccine hesitancy reports” for opposing vaccine passports
  • Contractors paid over £1m to trawl social media for perceived terms of service violations on selected topics and pass them to government officials
  • Counter-disinformation units use special relationships with social media companies to recommend content be removed
  • Front organisations aimed at minority communities were set up to spread government propaganda in the UK
  • BBW have provided a jolly little template that allows you exercise your legal right to find out if you personally were having your social media posts monitored. However that does seem to involve giving the government the real name behind your twitter handle, which in the circumstances…

    12 comments to This brings a whole new meaning to “brigading” on social media

    • Kirk

      Every time you have one of these government agencies start on these paths, you wind up with abuses.

      Anyone ever bother to remember just who it was that directed one Adolf Hitler to the nascent Nazi Party? What he was doing?

      Lots of people forget that he was a government operative, sent to infiltrate and find out what that party was up to.

      Track record on all this sort of thing is extremely dodgy. Look at the abuses that Woodrow Wilson and his crew got up to, in the US. Same sort of starting point, with the inevitable ending point in persecution of anyone daring to dissent with the regime. Wilson campaigned on “He Kept Us Out of War”, and ended by putting anyone protesting said war and the draft in Federal prison, and having what amounted to several different varieties of secret police and Red Guards persecuting anyone who dared question the entire thing.

      Frankly, I’d suggest strongly that a free society should have things like this, if only to identify the wannabe authoritarian types, who should then be carefully and silently eliminated from the body politic. If you’ll sign on for doing things like this, you’ll sign on for damn near anything. Including running a modern-day rendition of the Holocaust on whoever the regime points you at.

    • Rudolph Hucker

      Last Wednesday, during the daily UK Government Coronavirus livestream, the head of the British Army, General Sir Nick Carter:

      We’ve been involved with the Cabinet Office Rapid Response Unit, with our 77th Brigade helping to quash rumours from misinformation, but also to counter disinformation. Between three and four thousand of our people have been involved, with around twenty thousand available the whole time at high readiness.

      Well, we’ve got this expensive Brigade, thousands of people, right? Not much point having an effective PsyOps Unit, unless they do some PsyOps? Perhaps it was signed-off as a national emergency measure? Or just a training exercise.

      In 2018, Carter gave a speech to the Royal United Services Institute.

      “In our 77th Brigade,” he said, “… we have got some remarkable talent when it comes to social media, production design, and indeed Arabic poetry. Those sorts of skills we can’t afford to retain in the Regular component but they are the means of us delivering capability in a much more imaginative way than we might have been able to do in the past.”

      Maybe song writing and flower arranging as well. Who knows? Oh, by the way, if anyone wonders where one would suddenly find a few thousand people with those kind of skills…

      The BBC In London Is No Longer Calling… Thoughts On BBC World Service Cuts
      On Friday 27 January, the BBC Arabic radio network shut down after 85 years broadcasting Arabic language services to the world. Part of the BBC World Service, the network reached around 8 million radio listeners per week. In order to save money, around 380 jobs are being lost as the radio broadcast (but not the online version) is shut down as part of wider swingeing cuts to the World Service.


    • bobby b

      ” . . . we have got some remarkable talent when it comes to social media, production design, and indeed Arabic poetry.”

      Not entirely useless. We have people (U.S.) sitting in subs and in houses all over around Russia with those same sorts of skills – in Russian, not Arabic – getting (and delivering) tons of good intel daily. Well worth the effort and expense.

      But the thought of aiming those sorts back at us is a bit enraging.

    • I’ll be honest with you. I thought that the claims from various non-Mainstream media types about the activities of the 77th Brigade were just the usual conspiracy wibble like the claims made about the JIDF.

      So to find that there’s more than a little truth in it is disconcerting.

      Seems like more-and-more conspiracy theories are proving to be essentially correct these days and I’m not sure how to process that.

      BBW have provided a jolly little template that allows you exercise your legal right to find out if you personally were having your social media posts monitored. However that does seem to involve giving the government the real name behind your twitter handle, which in the circumstances…

      Yeah. Gonna pass on that. Not because I don’t want BBW to know the real person behind my personae, but rather because the last thing I need to know is that I’m not being paranoid and they are out to get me.

      I choose to remain ignorant.


    • Johnathan Pearce (London)

      This crap went on under Boris Johnson, and it strikes me that for all the cheerleading he gets from some Tories I know, this shows he is unfit to hold office in any capacity again.

    • Stonyground

      So, since it has now transpired that those accused of spreading disinformation were actually right and that the actual sources of disinformation was the Government itself, what now? Will the disinformation brigade be going after those liars instead?

    • X Trapnel

      From the little experience I have in such matters, I’m interested to see how the Brigade Top Brass gave orders which they were satisfied were compliant with restrictions imposed by the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

      The question of warrants may also be important. BBW have lawyers who know about this stuff, I’d hope.

      A wider question – especially as regards Keir Starmer and David Davis and Chris Green – concerns sensitives around communications to or from Members of Parliament. A question to exercise the mind of someone of the calibre of a former Director of Public Prosecutions, perhaps.

      And while we’re at the issue of sensitive considerations, the Act has additional safeguards exist around journalists’ sources. Peter Hitchens’ sources may be less in play here though than Peter Hitchens’ opinions. But there’s definitely some tyres want kicking on this point too.

      The IPA 2016 has that function rare in recent UK communications legislation of codifying the limits of state intrusion. These limits appear to have pressed quite a lot of late.

    • Rudolph Hucker

      @John Galt
      Seems like more-and-more conspiracy theories are proving to be essentially correct these days and I’m not sure how to process that.

      You might well ask: What’s the difference between the MSM (a) calling something a conspiracy theory and (b) reporting it as fact.

      I’m told the answer is: About 12 months.

    • Paul Marks

      The statements on Covid of the leading governments and corporations (although the distinction between governments and corporations has, partly, broken down) were NOT correct.

      They claimed that Covid was entirely natural – it was not, it was enhanced in the Chinese Communist Party regime lab in Wuhan by research pushed by Tony Fauci (American bureaucracy) and Peter Daszak (Eco Health Alliance and World Health Organisation – yes the very WHO, led by a Marxist Doctor of Philosophy – not mediciene, that is now going to be put in charge of world health policy).

      They claimed that there was no useful Early Treatment for Covid – this was not true as there were several (and cheap – not expensive) early treatments that could have saved most of the people who were killed. See American’s Frontline Doctors, and other associations of medical doctors and medical academics on this matter.

      They claimed that lockdowns were vital – this was not true, in reality lockdowns were a disaster.

      They claimed that the cloth masks were vital – they were useless.

      And they claimed that the injections were “safe and effective” – they were neither. They did not stop transmission (people passing on the virus), hospitalisation or death (it was, largely, the mutation of the virus into less dangerous forms that reduced deaths), and as for “safe” – that has proved to be a viciously absurd claim.

      The great question is – where the various governments and corporations just innocently mistaken in their basic statements, or were they deliberately lying?

      The involvement of organisations such as Brigade 77 suggests (but does NOT prove) that the various governments and corporations were lying, rather than just honestly mistaken.

      Those who know their medical case is true do not generally seek to censor and persecute dissenters – indeed they welcome debate as an opportunity to show their medical case is true.

      Although, YES, there are cases of people who honestly believed in their case – who also believed that dissent should be persecuted. But that is normally in theological matters – not medical ones.

    • Paul Marks

      Whether they were lying, or just honestly mistaken, the danger now is that there will be no confession by the governments and corporations that their basic statements on Covid were false.

      Most of the people who died could have been saved – and it would not have cost much money to save them. The lockdowns were a terrible blunder (if they were not a deliberate act of societal harm) which not “only” crippled Western economies (that will cost many lives in the longer term), but also led to great medical harm.

      And the injections cost many people their health, or their lives – and the true butcher’s bill is far from in yet.

      If governments and corporations do not admit that their statements and policies were mistaken and harmful – they will do such things again. After all the totalitarian forces of the world, such things as Agenda 2030 and Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI with its denial of objective truth beyond politics and “power relations”), push both governments and corporations, around the “international community”, in the direction of tyranny.

    • GregWA

      Remember the “Fact Sheets” from Men in Black? You know where to find the truth!

      You just don’t believe it could be true!

    • JJM

      Governments have no business being involved in “anti-misinformation activities”. And as for disinformation (i.e., the English calque of Russian dezinformacija), this sort of activity ought to be strictly reserved for use against external enemies in wartime.