Create fake news

Let’s assume you want to attack the company called Fancy Rubbish
You have to think how to spread your fake info: by e-mail? By Twitter? Creating a fake website and hoping to be contacted by journalists? Mimics need an accurate analysis. Studying the behaviour of your enemy and its communication style is vital for carrying out a successful action. You can do many things: subscribing to the newsletter of your target, checking all the material it puts on-line, making researches.

If you want to send your fake release by mail, you can adopt two strategies: creating a new e-mail address for the purpose (then you need to register the domain of your address – with a fake name of course!), or forging the actual mail from which the companies send out the release. So if your target sends e-mails alerts using info@fancyrubbish.com, you can register the domain fancy-rubbish.com and send the fake release out of info@fancy-rubbish.com. Or even better you can use Telnet, forging their mail and diffuse your release from the original address info@fancyrubbish.com, or – if you think another e-mail address would be more appealing for journalists – from another one, real or invented (communication@fancyrubbish.com, alerts@fancyrubbish.com, fancyrubbish@fancyrubbish.com)

If your target is not communicating a lot, is likely that not many journalists receive their releases and the ones that do don’t remember their format and sender. If your target is an important company/institution and has a proactive communication strategy, is more crucial to be a good copycat of the original.

An easy way to correctly formatting the code of a forged fake release is to save the source code of an original mail release, and edit the code substituting the original text with the fake one written by you. Some knowledge of HTML formatting can be quite useful (if the mail is not only in plain text).

If you want to send a forged mail, you definitely need to learn how to use Telnet. If you created a specific e-mail address, you can send it out from your domain. But check for limitations of the service provider before (number of maximum mail per hour, etc…): for mass mail sending, it may be the case that using Telnet will be anyway the easiest and most efficient solution. We will discuss Telnet later.

About the content of your release: think also about hyper links and telephone numbers in your release. Journalists often try to have more info for their story, and check the target website or call the press officer. A smart idea is to make a fake website of your target and to put the link on your release: some journalists will check the site and will be more likely convinced of the authenticity of the story!
About telephone numbers: it is good to avoid journalist to call the correct target numbers, as the target will deny the hoax. Better putting a phone number that a mate will answer pretending to be the spokesperson of Fancy Rubbish. Or to put a number which is occupied or never answering on the day and the hour you plan to act. But make your test before: a voice mail saying to let a message to the post office of Birmingham will make them aware is all fake!

MAKE A SCENARIO

We would recommend you make a scenario, think about when and how to act according to your purposes and how the people will read your news will react.

So you have to ask yourself some questions: your recipients are newspapers or news agencies? Or rather specific people or a specific public? You wish to have your news published as quick as possible on the net? Or you rather prefer to slip it through the day without it being noticed too much and being published on the next day on printed newspapers?

The answers will help you decide the timing. Consider you need some time before your message is read and then published/retransmitted. And the larger is your press list the most likely someone will react quickly. The sooner the fake info become public, the sooner your target will be aware of the fake, and after a short time it will likely publicly deny it.
If you send your release too early, the official denial may come out to early for your plans. If you want to have your release written on the next day newspapers, sending it late enough is a good idea, in order to avoid a denial arriving before the closing hours for newspaper offices. If you want to influence the financial trade the same day, send it out at least one hour before the closing hour of the stock market where the company shares are traded.

TRADE OFF BETWEEN REALISM, INTEREST AND POTENTIAL DAMAGE.

In creating your fake news you should take into account these three axes and achieve a good balance in the final concept.

If you a create way too exaggerate and grotesque fake news journalists will probably have some doubts and double check before relaying the information (even though you never know: it’s already happened that media published completely grotesque hoaxes).

If your fake news is realistic but does not represent anything “saucy” for the media, it is too irrelevant, journalist may believe it but not publish it because it is not interesting enough.

And even if your fake news is published, it may not produce the expected harming impact if it does not contain information suggesting a serious threat to the economical solidity or image of the target and that can rapidly spread.

You should create realistic news, at the same time sensational enough for being published and to cause damage to your target. You can get inspiration from the tons of news and releases you can find on the net. And don’t be too shy: even if a fake piece of news it is a bit exaggerated and sensational, journalists are not so meticulous and are easy to fool! If in doubt, better exaggerating a bit: it makes more sense to risk with too much sensational news that may cause doubt in journalists and not be published by most of them and it is better to risk a quick deny from the original company, than spread too negligible news that nobody will publish. And if just a couple of journalists will believe the news and quickly publish them, that is already enough!

CHOOSE YOUR PRESS LIST

A realistic fake communication should be received by people that are supposed to receive it. They should receive it in such a way they’ll believe it is real. The best option would be to access the actual press list of your target, but that is difficult. Anyway, journalists receive many press releases per day from different sources, they will not be surprised by a release just because it is from an unusual source.

Think also about your public, and how they will diffuse the news. If your press list is composed by newspapers, websites and agencies, they will work as a second level relay, spreading the news exponentially. If just two or three of them believe and publish your hoax, it will diffuse quickly to a large public. So you don’t need such a huge press list (but well chosen- some hundreds contacts for country may be enough). If you want to send the news to a final recipient instead (for instant if you pretend to be media), then you can count on a very less relevant relay, so your list should be much larger.

To build up a good press list is not easy, we give you some hints:

– Ask someone that might access directly or through a colleague to the press list of the organization for which she works! Many companies, institutions, association do communicate with media and have a press office which may have a good list of contacts.

– Surf on the net! Many journalists, bloggers, magazines provide their contacts on their site.

– There are several commercial websites selling press lists, you can ask a demo!

– You can extract contacts from the social networks, and with a bit of creativity you can find the email addresses associated to these accounts.

-You can use harvesting bots for collecting all e-mail addresses present on certain websites…


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