Monday, April 4, 2016

Jordan Robertson, Michael Riley, and Andrew Willis — How to Hack an Election

Andrés Sepúlveda rigged elections throughout Latin America for almost a decade. He tells his story for the first time.…
“My job was to do actions of dirty war and psychological operations, black propaganda, rumors—the whole dark side of politics that nobody knows exists but everyone can see…”
As a child, he witnessed the violence of Colombia’s Marxist guerrillas. As an adult, he allied with a right wing emerging across Latin America. He believed his hacking was no more diabolical than the tactics of those he opposed, such as Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega.…
He has agreed to tell his full story for the first time, hoping to convince the public that he’s rehabilitated—and gather support for a reduced sentence.
Sepúlveda was dazzled by Rendón, who owned a fleet of luxury cars, wore big flashy watches, and spent thousands on tailored coats. Like Sepúlveda, he was a perfectionist. His staff was expected to arrive early and work late. “I was very young,” Sepúlveda says. “I did what I liked, I was paid well and traveled. It was the perfect job.” But more than anything, their right-wing politics aligned. Sepúlveda says he saw Rendón as a genius and a mentor. A devout Buddhist and practitioner of martial arts, according to his own website, Rendón cultivated an image of mystery and menace, wearing only all-black in public, including the occasional samurai robe. On his website he calls himself the political consultant who is the “best paid, feared the most, attacked the most, and also the most demanded and most efficient.” Sepúlveda would have a hand in that.
Social media,
As for Sepúlveda, his insight was to understand that voters trusted what they thought were spontaneous expressions of real people on social media more than they did experts on television and in newspapers. He knew that accounts could be faked and social media trends fabricated, all relatively cheaply. He wrote a software program, now called Social Media Predator, to manage and direct a virtual army of fake Twitter accounts. The software let him quickly change names, profile pictures, and biographies to fit any need. Eventually, he discovered, he could manipulate the public debate as easily as moving pieces on a chessboard—or, as he puts it, “When I realized that people believe what the Internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything.”
Meanwhile, Rendon is still in business.
Last year, based on anonymous sources, the Colombian media reported that Rendón was working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Rendón calls the reports untrue. The campaign did approach him, he says, but he turned them down because he dislikes Trump. “To my knowledge we are not familiar with this individual,” says Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks. “I have never heard of him, and the same goes for other senior staff members.” But Rendón says he’s in talks with another leading U.S. presidential campaign—he wouldn’t say which—to begin working for it once the primaries wrap up and the general election begins.
How to Hack an Election
Jordan Robertson, Michael Riley, and Andrew Willis

1 comment:

MRW said...

Great story. Teens need to read this.