Anonymity is still a pillar of the internet, and a requisite part for certain parts of it to remain functional. One such part that we talked about here on the Thoughpick blog has been wikileaks.com. The site exemplifies the importance of anonymity on the net and why it is crucial to maintain that as a feature of the web. The main function of the website is that it enables people with a pipeline through which they can expose the deepest and naughtiest secrets of the world and act as whistle-blower central.
Being anonymous on Wikileaks enables you to protect yourself but little else, it endows you with some powers to bring on change to the world but your adopted hidden identity does not allow you to do much more than leak. On the other hand, there are others on the web that utilize their anonymous identity to organize, that identity then becomes fully characterized and they snuggle comfortably into becoming Anonymous in both real and net lifes.
Anonymous is not a person, nor is it a group, movement or cause: Anonymous is a collective of people. They are a loose group of people that are united through a belief in an idea rather than leadership. They are independently acting agents that don’t seek recognition but long to achieve their goals.
Members of Anonymous tend to congregate in certain forums and IRC channels on the internet, most notably 4chan and Encyclopedia Dramatica. If you visit these venues, you will notice that they are filled with pranks, cute images, and LOLz plus a healthy dose of vulgarity but if you dig deeper, you will find that underneath this playfulness lies Anonymous.
As Anonymous, people have been able to achieve their goals on the web and in real life as well. Whenever they are present in real life, they are always donning a mask and specifically the mask of V the character from V for Vendetta paying a homage to Guy Fawkes. They have left their print on various events, some of them were pranks while others are more serious in nature:
Youtube Porn day
Last year on May 20th, Youtube was flooded with porn videos that were masquerading as family and kids videos to protest Youtube’s removal of some music videos. The attack was organized by members of 4chan while they pinned the blame on eBaum’s world because they love the site so much. This prank gave birth to the internet meme “I’m 12 years old, and what is this?”
Hal Turner Raid
Harold “Hal” C. Turner is a white supremacist radio host who was supposed to go off the air in December of 2006. To show him how thankful the world is for him going off the air, a massive raid was planned which placed 150 prank calls to his 3 hour show practically blocking all his “fan” base from making it through.
Pissed off Hal retaliated by posting the numbers of the prank callers which included numbers of minors and later on their addresses.
Anon requested the removal of all this information but Hal refused and thus ensued an unrelenting attack which went on to dismantle this man’s career and life. Some might say they went overboard but Anon replies that they “don’t forgive”.
In early 2008, a video for the Church of Scientology featuring Tom Cruise was leaked to Youtube, and then taken down for copyright violations. That act got on Anonymous’ collective nerve and at that moment Project Chanology was born.
The project’s aim is to expose and dismantle the church and expose its exploitation of its members, a message that was sent loud and clear in a Youtube video. After a series of DDoS attacks and pranks, actual protests where held on several occasions in over 93 countries and which attracted around 7,000 – 8,000 people in total, earning Anonymous wide media coverage. And the war continues!
Chris “The Pedo” Forcand
Chris is a 50 something upstanding Canadian citizen, a devout Christian who happens to have an interest in girls… really young girls. And his favorite way to lure those young girls is through MSN. One day he met Jessica, a 13 year old girl who seemed like a great catch but he failed to notice that Jessica is in fact Anonymous. They have set up a sting operation to collect evidence and build a strong enough case so that he can be placed behind bars.
Once they have achieved that, they tipped the Canadian police and he was arrested and charged.
The activities of Anonymous are plenty, and varied in taste and motive. Whether its the vulgarism, the pranks the hacks or the activism and vigilantism, Anonymous escapes categorization. They are what they are neither good nor evil, just a collective of individuals who join in on the goals that they deem worthy for themselves.
So what are your thoughts about Anonymous? Do you think internet vigilantism should be condoned? Are you Anonymous?
Let us hear your thoughts.