Operation Fishwrap Repackages Old Terror Attacks as New Ones for Your Dumb Friends to Share

By Shabana Arif on at

Analytics firm, Recorded Future, has purported to have discovered an online campaign that is recycling news about past terror attacks and re-framing them as new incidents on social media.

Dubbed 'Fishwrap' because of its penchant for repackaging old news as brand new events on social media, Recorded Future suspects a nefarious motive driven by a political group or nation state - although it should be noted that these posts provide links to legitimate articles with actual dates on. Anyone with eyeballs connected to a functioning brain could take a glance and immediately figure out it's old news, so the campaign clearly isn't trying that hard to peddle 'fake news'.

Influence operations, as they're known, are "the collection of tactical information about an adversary, as well as the dissemination of propaganda in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent," and in the case of Fishwrap, incidents like the 2015 Paris terror attack resurfaced in posts in March this year in 19 instances - mostly on social media - apparently framed as a second, recent attack on the city.

Record Analytics has concluded that more than 215 accounts are involved in Fishwrap, using "a set of dedicated URL shortener services to link to old news" to track the efficacy of the operation, "possibly to analyze what kind of audience (at least geographically) it succeeds in targeting."

The 215 accounts are linked to 10 URL shorteners that seem to be running the same code, but the 10 domains are anonymously registered and running on dedicated Microsoft Azure servers, so it's not possible to ascertain the people or group behind it.

Fishwrap has been running for almost a year, based on the analytics firm's data, and the expense involved in the multitude of domains and servers leads it to believe that "this is not just someone running the operation 'for the lulz,' but rather, a political organization or nation-state with an intent to spread fear and uncertainty and track followers of the posted links."

Again, the posts link to real stories with no attempt to hide or alter the publication date, so the only real issue here is your simpleton friends smashing the share button on anything that crosses their path without taking a second to click through and take a look at what they're sharing. Stop being stupid, people.