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Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Internet Archive and the Rules of Disinformation

In order to pick my way through the potential minefield of information, misinformation and disinformation online I will start by referring to a source which has been found to be admissible in court (with an affidavit):
Archived web pages as evidence
In an October 2004 case called "Telewizja Polska SA, Inc. v. Echostar Satellite", the Wayback Machine archives were used as a source of admissible evidence, perhaps for the first time.

Internet Archive (the Wayback Machine)evidence that Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth:
The Rules of Disinformation
by H. Michael Sweeneyexisted on the internet in substantially the same form as today prior to 9/11
corraborating evidence may be found using a google search as well.
Hopefully, this evidence reasonably proves to an internet audience that this document was written prior to 9/11 and has been used since that time by 9/11 sites such as 9-11 Review to help analyse patterns of disinformation. Assuming that The Rules of Disinformation had an existence prior to 9/11, we can then use it as a tool to examine things which have happened on and since 9/11 to see whether we may find any evidence of disinformation occuring and to see how well those events may fit within the Rules of Disinformation paradigm. I won't attempt to present exhaustive evidence support each point and even if I did, my examples would doubtless be subject to interpretation as opposed to definitive. Nonetheless, I feel that I can present reasonably convincing evidence that some points within the rules match events quite well, and I think that a reasonable reader could easily find more supportive evidence in online forums (some of which are no doubt devoted solely to 9/11 and others which may have a significant number of threads on the topic).

So here are some links where you can read the Twenty-Five Rules of Disinformation (short version w/o examples; also gives a link to the Eight Traits of the Disinformationalist)
a longer version (includes a preamble and pre-9/11 examples)

The Internet Archive can't prove that a documented web page did not exist prior to a certain date, but it can be used to establish that a documented web page did exist on or prior to a certain date in a certain form. Therefore, it can be useful in some cases when web pages have changed, no longer exist, or to establish their existence prior to a certain point in time. All of these things have been useful when trying to track down information and sort out potential disinformation, as you will see. As a point of note, the internet archive's URLs contain the date the archive of that page was created within them. For example, the URL for the oldest IA record for Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth:
The Rules of Disinformation
is http://web.archive.org/web/20010820192101/http://www.hasslberger.com/about/about/awa/awa_6.htm (20010820 being August 20th, 2001). This will be useful to keep in mind. Occasionally, when navigating through links on archived pages, the URL numbers will change to indicate a different date- this means that that particular page was archived at a different time than the page which links to it. Only once have I seen (and documented here) a different date number appear in the URL to the page I end up on than the date which appears for that page in the IA records.


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