How the folks from 4chan disrupted the political protest of the “Transformers” star: a popular case on geosurveillance operations.
Hey there, it’s Kotelov digital finance! Today, we’ll talk about how the folks from 4chan turned a political protest by the “Transformers” star into a popular case about geosurveillance. This is the story of Shia LaBeouf’s attempt to hold an anti-Trump protest in a secret location.
In this article, we will narrate a story that has become legendary in the world of geosurveillance and memes. We’ve gathered all the details and insights from our podcast, where we invite unconventional guests.
This time, we had Schwartz and Castello with us – individuals engaged in the search for people and places for big and serious missions. Here, we’ve unveiled a small part of our podcast – the case of Shia LaBeouf’s resistance and 4chan. If you want to delve into the intricacies of geosurveillance, be sure to tune in to our podcast.
How the actor initiated a protest against Trump
Shia LaBeouf is known to us for his role in “Transformers.” In addition to his acting career, LaBeouf is involved in political activism. One notable story has cast him as an individual with an exceptionally active civic stance.
LaBeouf disagreed with Trump’s politics, especially his nationalist and sexist remarks. In 2017, the actor launched the “He will not divide us” protest against then-President Donald Trump.
During Trump’s election campaign, he was initially seen as the “anyone but him” candidate. The new president was known for being a successful businessman but a divisive politician. The most controversial issues included allegations of misconduct and Trump’s idea to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
“I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” – Donald Trump.
After Trump’s presidential announcement, celebrities joined protests alongside ordinary citizens, and Twitter was flooded with angry comments from Americans.
With the support of the New York Museum of Modern Art, Shia LaBeouf organized an art project and mounted a camera on the wall of a building. He launched a 24/7 live stream and chanted into the camera, “He will not divide us!”
LaBeouf planned to protest for four years – exactly the length of a presidential term. Any passerby could shout the protest’s name into the camera and publicly express their feelings about the new President of the United States. This was the actor’s way of demonstrating national unity and solidarity in the United States.
The fight and the relocation of the protest to a secret location
But the public protest was short-lived. During one of LaBeouf’s demonstrations, he was detained for getting into a brawl with a passerby. It later turned out that this “passerby” was actually a member of the anonymous web forum 4chan. The way the actor passionately expressed his opinions had amused the 4chan community. LaBeouf faced a lot of hate, and 4chan enthusiasts began showing up at the protest, shouting nationalist slogans into the camera.
After his arrest, LaBeouf decided to continue the live stream and move it to a secret location. He took precautions and hid from the haters who were provoking him for fun.
The secret leaked: how the tiniest sound can reveal the location
Everything was going smoothly: LaBeouf had found a location—a flagpole in an empty field—and hung a flag on it. The live stream was continuous, with viewers only seeing the “He will not divide us” flag waving against the backdrop of the sky. It seemed like LaBeouf’s location was now impossible to determine.
Here’s what viewers saw on the live stream:
But activists from the 4chan image board decided to locate LaBeouf and have another laugh at the actor’s expense. They deduced that the camera was picking up the croaking of frogs. Frogs are not found everywhere in America, so the search radius narrowed down.
Such a detective story unfolded thanks to GEOINT – the search for people and objects based on photos or videos. The primary tools used by such intelligence gatherers are open sources like Google Maps and Dorks.
The activists then observed the stars that appeared in the night sky, further narrowing down the potential location. The next “traitor” was a passing airplane. Flight routes of airplanes are available in open sources, freely accessible to any internet user. This allowed the proactive investigators to easily identify the likely state where LaBeouf was hiding.
Remember this! To ensure the success of a protest: find a quiet place, dim the stars, and block out the sky for air traffic. They’ve got it all figured out.
How honking car horns helped locate LaBeouf’s hideout
The final breakthrough came with LaBeouf’s appearance at a diner in Greenville, Tennessee. The investigators from the agency quickly found photographs of the actor in the diner, confirming their suspicions.
The investigators examined maps and selected a house where they speculated the actor might be conducting the broadcast.
A specially trained individual drove through the city. He honked the horn of his truck at each house. Viewers heard the honking in the live stream. It turned out that the actor was hiding on one of the farms in Greenville.
In the end, activists stole the flag and replaced it with a T-shirt featuring the Pepe the Frog meme, making fun of LaBeouf and creating many mocking memes.
What should we take away from this story?
If you’re broadcasting something on the Internet, sooner or later, someone will try to stop it.
The actor decided to continue his protest, but the folks from 4chan didn’t leave LaBeouf alone even in France. Internet users dubbed this whole saga an online series, and viewers eagerly awaited the release of new episodes.
This story perfectly illustrates the work of geosurveillance – GEOINT. Any determined individual can find you if, by your carelessness, you’ve shared a photo or video from a secret location. Just seeing the shadow of a tree in the background, dry asphalt, or hearing frogs live on air is enough.
To avoid repeating LaBeouf’s unfortunate experience, we recommend checking out our podcast on geosurveillance. What do you need to know about GEOINT to protect yourself? How can you enter the profession and legitimately earn money from it? On the podcast, we discussed all of this with GEOINT experts – Schwartz and Castello.
And if you want to receive announcements with such guests, come join us in our Linkedin