Leaked DHS internet watchlist lists msthirteen.com, skeevy German site about 13yo girls as MS-13 gang news

So I'm going to be charitable here and presume that whoever compiled that internet monitoring watchlist at the Department of Homeland Security thought that "Miss Thirteen," at www.msthirteen.com, was a site about the ultraviolent Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 gang, which originated in El Salvador and now operates in a number of US cities.

It's not.

Quote, mangle-translated from the original German by Google: "Change in our lives, accompanying us from our childhood into adult life. The hormones go crazy and actually everything is always much too confusing."

Perhaps this was the source for the bad link. And perhaps the fact that this site was included in the watchlist tells us something about how the watchlist was compiled, or how reliable its contents are as a disclosure of what the agency's monitoring.

(thanks, Elizabeth Gettelman!)

Previously: Homeland Security Internet Watch List leaked; Boing Boing sadly omitted from list of must-read sites for domestic spying

Update: Probably a more simple explanation -- the content of the site changed over time. The version of the document at Cryptome was published in 2011. The Reuters article that made the rounds today appears to be based on a new version of the document for 2012, which we haven't seen. BB reader Todd Towles says, "According to DNS Stuff, the current msthirteen.com domain was created in Sep 2011. According to the WayBackMachine, the site was about MS-13 on Feb 2010.



      1. Sorry, didn’t visit it since I don’t speak German. The stock photos alone didn’t look too terrible compared to the usual stuff they aim at kids these days.

        1. What’s worse is yet another English word (thirteen, teenager) that was borrowed by the Germans with no effort to germanify it.  Add oddly inappropriate sounding suffixes and its just WRONG!!!

          1. I’d think that adding suffixes is a way to Germanify  it. 

            Also, we didn’t borrow it, because you ain’t gonna get it back.  You can keep the angst, though – Germans themselves never got the difference between that and Furcht  (fear).

      2. Even the catchphrase “teenies gone wild” is enough to make it skeevy. Perhaps we should take some comfort in the fact that, although our DHS isn’t checking purported terror websites very closely, they also aren’t spending work time at sites that promise “teenies gone wild.” 

        1. I think it’s it’s just another example of someone using a ‘cool’ English expression without understanding what it actually means. They’re probably using it to mean edgy and different, while using English to suggest that the website is international. In China quite a few magazines do this, everything is in Chinese apart from the titles and some of the subheadings.

          1. You are absolutely right.   They use English *words* because it’s the “In” thing to do, but they do not use English. „Wildgewordene Teeanger/Jugendliche“ is a stock expression describing the shift to the “rebellious” phase. 

        2. No, it isn’t.   The phrase doesn’t mean the same as it would when this were an American website.

      3. Well, the general age of sexual consent in Germany is 14. 

        And yes, it’s almost certainly SEO.   It’s a mess of stock phrases ranging from the sensible to the mind-boggling, when deconstructed. 

        This was written for machines, not people.

        Edit: stock, not stuck. Damn, I gotta turn off that autocorrect.

    1. “Teenies gone wild” is pretty skeevy unless you’re just visiting the Internet for the first time today. (Avenue Q has a song about that.) And.. well, it shouldn’t seem worse because it’s a German site, but that does make it seem worse.

      Why the hell is it talking about hormones? Is that something actual 13-year-old girls like to talk about?

        1. It seems to be a site for parents of 13 year old girls that have gone wild with the onset of hormonal changes.  It talks of problems raising girls during puberty. 
          I bet the makers of the site have never seen any “girls gone wild” vids, and no idea. 
          Not quite sure what “skeevy” means to you, but it doesn’t seem skeevy to me. 

          1. I think Xeni nailed it with the SEO observation. Let’s look at the facts:

            * Contains english phrases, and is named with an English phrase, and the domain is an english phrase.
            * No comments anywhere
            * No photos of the creator of the site, or any photos that aren’t stock
            * Exactly enough articles to fill one page, and no more.
            * One of the categories is “teenie,” ffs.

            It basically has no personality whatsoever, no evidence that a person who cares about the wellbeing of teens had a hand in its creation. This was a site created by a robot, or a domain-squatting mass production process of some kind. Those kinds of sites are ugly enough on their own, but then add in the subject matter and it really goes off the rails of decency. An algorithm decided these would be good terms to have on a web page where ads for products might be displayed, and we don’t have to guess why these terms worked well in the algorithm.

            Frankly if homeland security wants to shut this one down, I have no objections.

    2. Nothing. The article’s author didn’t bother to do what any real journalist should, copy and paste the content of the website’s page in Google translate. The site is about dealing with changes in teen behavior due to puberty and peer pressure. It does however show how awful U.S. intelligence is and what a waste of money it is to “troll” the internet seeking criminal intelligence for law enforcement or military purposes. Anyone can put anything for any reason on the internet but here in the States of Disillusion we pay $65,000.00 a year to an army of federal agents to surf the web while jerking off.

  1. i think it’s obvious that this is a false positive by automated processes whose results are not checked by humans.

      1. If it’s anything at all like China, expect a lot more of the same. The kind of random stuff that has no political or adult content but gets blocked anyway is unbelievable. It shouldn’t be so obvious with SOPA  if you speak English though, I expect the automation will used much more in other languages.

      2. well yeah, but that means the story is not that the site was categorized as such, but that the process of categorization is so broken. this being a “leak” obscures the real story.

  2. Hey, it’s a war out there and there’s gonna be some collateral damage. Or. in this case. collateral benefit.

  3. Gee, thanks for making these screenshots show up in my browser’s cache.  That’ll be tough to explain when the Feds come knocking down my door.

  4. I think that the current state of the drug war in Mexico has made MS-13 a thing of the past. There never was really that much of a threat, it was mostly “fear of the day” media hype. Free agents like the Zetas, and the old Golfo and Sinaloa cartels are the big players, with the Juarez cartel hanging in there. At least that’s how things are on the east coast of the US/Mexico border. Don’t know much about the west coast.

    Mara Salvatrucha was mostly hype and wannabes. 

  5. Wait…an algorithm can spontaneously create a site like this? Does this mean we have emergent AI, and the emergent AI is a paedo? Shit…I thought SKYNET was scary…

  6. I believe it is important to remember that content of domains / sites can change over time. The DHS report referenced in this article was created in Jan 2011.

    According to DNS Stuff, the current msthirteen.com domain was created in Sep 2011 – http://www.dnsstuff.com/tools/whois/?tool_id=66&token=&toolhandler_redirect=0&ip=msthirteen.com

    According to the WayBackMachine, the site was about MS-13 on Feb 2010.

    1. The 2012 version isn’t available publicly yet, but was leaked to a Reuters reporter. And I’ll clarify the earlier link to the older doc on Cryptome.

  7. In defense of us Germans, I have *never* heard of this site. Not that I’m a thirteen year old, but popular sites directed at kids and teenagers usually make the mainstream news at some time. And the fact that there’s only four posts on the whole site, written between Oct. 23rd and Nov. 1st, 2011, also shows that this is not exactly an active, popular community site. Not that I have read more than 10 percent of it; as retepslluerb already pointed out, it’s all bull anyway.

  8. I was about to make the wayback machine comment, but Technocrat beat me. It took me less time to find out that this leaked list is a bit out of date but was accurate (in this case) than it did to write this comment.

  9. Agents and intelligence types have a very strong tendency to operate on a “if the name looks evil, it *is* evil” on the theory that the bad guys are not smart enough to choose innocuous names.

    They use the same approach to porn:  Simple key word searches for naughty words.  That’s why there’s been a push on and off for years to have anything that claims to be kiddie porn classed the same as real kiddie porn since that will make things a lot easier since they can bust almost every adult site in the universe as most of them claim to have “hot young teens” and such like even if they feature washed out forty year old crack hookers.

    I spent years trying to teach some of them this doesn’t work for spit.  Some learned, those are the good ones.

Comments are closed.