Updated Saturday,27May2023-23:14

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  • United States A 21-year-old soldier, alleged perpetrator of the leaks of the Ukrainian war to the social network Discord

The parameters of the literary genre of espionage – undercover agents, traitors, and even a sexualized woman who betrays her own people – were fixed some 2,700 years ago by one or more Israeli writers in the Book of Joshua, of the Jewish and Christian Bibles, which narrates the myth of the conquest of Canaan – what is now Israel and southern Lebanon – by the Jews.

What no one has thought of in these thousands of years is the story of a 21-year-old soldier named Jack Teixeira col.

ocando in a closed group of 24 people -all of them teenagers- in a social network,


, in which people discuss games


, the secrets of the biggest war that the world has been experiencing for decades, only with the intention of educating and impressing a group of teenagers.

It probably didn't cross anyone's mind because no publisher would publish that. Spend your life imagining adventures of


and triple agents to meet a 21-year-old boy who is telling humanity complete state secrets without any spy knowing. And that's literal.

Recently, Teixeira's latest revelation on Discord – posted months ago, but discovered now – is that the owner and head of Wagner, the largest mercenary company in the world, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had traveled to an African country to meet with Ukrainian military and offer them information about Russian Army targets in exchange for letting their soldiers of fortune advance on the Bajmut front.

Prigozhin's is

James Bond

. Teixeira's situation does not reach

Mortadelo and Filemón

. With a touch of Berlanga: Discord is one of the social networks that the Department of Defense of


It uses to attract potential soldiers, just as the CIA uses, for example, Twitter, or the National Security Agency (NSA), LinkedIn.

The Discord crisis reveals that social media is not only a battleground for data trafficking, drug trade, human trafficking and disinformation, but also,

in matters of national security

. And that is due to several reasons that present difficult solutions: they are huge, many allow closed groups that sometimes give rise to authentic subcultures in which it is very difficult to enter and that, in addition, are very dynamic and, to mess everything more, there is a huge generation gap when it comes to understanding how they work. Outside the networks, there is another factor that contributes to the problem: there is possibly an excess of information that also reaches classified information.

In the background, everything

It is a problem not so much technological as of human nature.

. As one of the heads for Europe of an information technology company with a strong weight in Defense says, "ultimately, the problem of Discord leaks is human." But it is that human nature acting with tools, social networks, that until now did not exist.

This has led to a situation in which, as Alejandro Romero, founder, CEO and director of Operations of the intelligence solutions company Constella, explains, "Intelligence has been transformed. In the past, when HUMINT (human intelligence) dominated, you had to find a gold deposit. Now, with digitization, trillions of pieces of information appear. Instead of the deposit, it is enough to find

gold nuggets"

. Every piece of data on the internet is one of those


. Although it has never occurred to them to think about the gold nuggets that may be hanging around those platforms, the big security services do not ignore them.

On the contrary. The Pentagon not only uses Discord to try to convince soldiers to enlist, but it even has a group on that network with 17,000 members ranging from active-duty soldiers to experts in the field.


that help them progress in their careers, passing through military relatives, all united by the love of waging war on a screen.

But those operations only cover a minuscule part of the networks, which are so huge that the leaks to Discord have vindicated what the giants that control the biggest platforms – the American Meta and Alphabet and the Chinese ByteDance – had been saying for years:

It is impossible to control all the contents in them

. Although many of them are duplicated or inactive, Meta controls through its three main networks -Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp- 5,900 million accounts -; Alphabet, via YouTube, $2.600 billion; and ByteDance, or TikTok, $1.500 billion. Even small networks, such as Discord, 563 million, Twitter, 450 million, or Snapchat (300 million), are unmanageable.

US intelligence services only monitor some of these platforms, such as those of Meta and Alphabet. Discord eluded them, even though the military was perfectly aware that a network that revolves around online games among twenty-somethings is designed almost by heart to attract young people who enlist in the Armed Forces. In fact, in March – the month the scandal broke – the Pentagon had already sent a

Safety Safeguarding Guide

for Discord to Special Forces soldiers. The idea that the SEALs who killed Bin Laden or the DELTA, who did the same with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi start counting more than necessary on Discord may sound ridiculous if we are guided by Hollywood movies that present the soldiers of those units as supermen. In reality, however, they are people in their early twenties who, if necessary, may want to hesitate the anonymous interlocutor of the network.

Many of the users of the networks, in addition, have motivation to release those "gold nuggets" of which Romero speaks. Platforms encourage anonymity but are also true sources of narcissism. The


-a word that literally means

Lord of the End

, but which in reality is nothing more than the eternal cool of always- dominate social networks. Someone who places provocative content, who apparently knows more than the others, receives more audience, more adulation, and that is a truly addictive ego injection. There are websites like Fishbowl where people can anonymously post gossip from their workplace.

So how to prevent a 21-year-old with racist and ultra ideas from escaping the temptation to impress his friends with the details of the future Ukrainian offensive against Russia? In the United States there are almost three million people, including military, civilians, civil servants, hired by the Administration and employees of private companies, who have some type of access to information considered secret. Paradoxically, once a person achieves that status, they are periodically examined, but not by humans, but by software, in a highly automated process. Digital monitoring alone does not serve to hunt down the digital spy – or mouthpieces, like Teixeira.

Which leads to another problem: there is likely to be too much information classified as secret that is not. In fact, there are those who say that the Discord case has been blown out of proportion. As an analyst at the RAND Corporation think tank recently noted in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, "The leaks don't seem to have told the Russians anything they didn't know. Data leaked on Discord indicated that Ukrainian anti-aircraft reserves were running low, but the Russians had been hitting them for some time. The impact could be among Western public opinion. Among the protagonists of the war, nothing has changed."