Skip to main content

View Diary: DO NOT use these words on your social network sites! (94 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Google "emacs spook mode" sometime (8+ / 0-)

    Also "Echelon," which was a similar word-trigger program from the early days of email. Echelon would supposedly mine email – according to the story, all of the email being sent via the Internet – for certain words, and if you used enough (or maybe any) of those words you would be the beneficiary of some extra government scrutiny.

    So hackers – I don't know if it was legendary uberhacker Richard Stallman or just one of the many hackers who followed his lead – created a little tool for the "emacs" text editor, email client and programming toolbox called "spook mode." If you were working in emacs and ran a command called "spook" it would insert a piece of text into your document that looks something like

    Ft. Bragg Khaddafi SDI Roswell Marxist Clinton New World Order DES Bosnia Serbian cryptographic Legion of Doom quiche munitions Croatian
    The words of course are randomly chosen from a pretty lengthy list of such words and phrases. (One of my favorites is the phrase "Hello to all my fans in domestic surveillance.") Game designer Steve Jackson put out a version uncoupled from emacs that we distributed through the Illuminati bulletin board that added the word "fnord" to the end of the string.

    Their stated reason for doing this was to poison the data stream to prove the point that programs like Echelon are a waste of time and money because false positives can't be distinguished from actual threats without a great deal of time and effort on the part of the watchers. (And anyone but the dumbest terrorist who wants to communicate messages about "forbidden" subjects is going to use other, less detectable means to do so.)

    I just checked. The "Ft. Bragg Khaddafi" text above was generated by me in the most recent version of emacs about fifteen minutes ago. Sounds like it's time for a software update.

    If you can't say anything nice about the GOP, please post here more often.

    by Omir the Storyteller on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 11:57:00 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site