At university we had a lengthy debate, about whether internet was a liberation technology, or a "stabilisation" technology for authoritarian regimes. This made me think about different scenaria. I had countless sick but rather trivial ideas and I want to know whether regimes have applied any of these. I restrict to two of them:

  • providing a known critic falsifiable information in order for him to air it and be discredited.
  • restricting internet access in a two tier manner, with a soft barrier around things you don't really care about (perhaps adult content) and a hard barrier around things you don't want people to see. Breaking the soft barrier, most people might overestimate their informedness.

Naturally, I searched before asking, but didn't find anything, perhaps due to my inability to reduce these things to very few keywords.

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    When uncontrolled, it's rather destabilizing. The arab spring revolutions were organized via the Internet and modern terrorist organizations recruit in foreign countries via the Internet. Whether it is possible to effectively control internet access while having an education level high enough to be economically competitive and without breaking democratic principles is a matter of debate. What's not debatable is it's usefulness for campaigning/propaganda/spindoctoring when used well (just like with any new media in the history of mankind).
    – Philipp
    Aug 17, 2016 at 20:11
  • What is unclear here?!
    – Ludi
    Oct 4, 2016 at 12:36

1 Answer 1


Locating any example of intelligence work is always difficult, and even the information we can find in the public is often unreliable

Poisoning the Well

Both strategies are examples of 'poisoning the well' in intelligence work. Searching for this is mired by the existence of a logical fallacy of the same name.

The basics are just what you described - the government leaks false information to an organization. The target organization takes some actions based on false information, and their operations (whatever those may be) fail.

I did not locate any examples of a journalist being setup with false information. However, Real Clear Defense (which reports on security issues) recounts an example from the 1980's. When American intelligence agents discovered the Soviet Union was stealing technologies, they fed them fake plans which caused the Soviets to adopt faulty technology.

Similarly, I don't know of an example where a network with two-tiered security was set up to purposefully allow people access to unreliable information. If you are interested in how this could work, you might look up the concept of a honeypot in information security.

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