How do you prove you are Anonymous if you are anonymous?

“We are anonymous, we are legions, we do not forget, we do not forgive, expect us”. Very impressive sentence. Who is really hiding behind it? How are they organized?

These past years, the group called “Anonymous” is getting more and more famous. But we know only a little about them. Who is wearing the V for Vendetta mask? Which goals are they aiming to? Do they have a leader? A structure? How is this meme working? It is time to inquire about this group in order to make up our mind.

Anonymous is an hactivism community formed by, obviously, anonymous Internet users. Hactivists are hackers who act to promote politcal ends. Usually they defend ideas such as free expression, freedom of the information, democracy and so on. Anonymous is originated from the 4Chan image board in 2006. On a forum, when you post without giving your name, you will be called “Anonymous” by default. 4Chan users start to behave like “Anonymous” was really someone.

The Internet community has been known worldwide from 2008 and the so-called Chanology Project. This targeted the Scientology Church which was trying to censor a video on Youtube. Anonymous mostly demonstrated peacefully and used DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. DDoS consists in making a ressource unavailable by saturating a webserver. It results in bringing down the targeted website temporarily or indefinitely.

Video for Operation Payback

The group has been very active during the Iranians elections in 2009 or against Sony in 2011. Furthermore, they supported Wikileaks when some companies like Paypal, Mastercard, Visa or Postfinance in Switzerland have blocked the bank accounts of the organization. Many say they played a major role during the Arabian Spring too.

However, we should not forget the “dark” side of Anonymous. In 2008, some members of the group attacked two Hip-Hop website via DDoS. In 2009, they loaded a lot of porn video on YouTube making them looking like child content. Same year, they harrased a teenager who was running the “No Cussing Club” a website against insults. This year they hacked the website of Fine Gael an Irish party.

A question mark leads

Therefore, it is difficult to find a complete coherence in their different actions. Often medias describe Anonymous as a small organised group. Just look at the number of blog, website, Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts pretending representing the group. It shows you how wrong it is. A real question arises: how are they organized? Actually, are they organized at all?

Operation Facebook is one good example. For  months we have been hearing of Anonymous destroying Facebook on the fifth of November. Nothing happened. Before the fifth, one of their Twitter account published this message:  “We told you many times ddosing Facebook was a fake operation” and then “We don’t ‘kill’ the messenger. That’s not our style”. Because they are anonymous, everyone can pretend speaking for them. In fact, everyone can be part of Anonymous.

Video for Operation Facebook

In the Guardian, Sabu, ex-leader of a hacking crew, close to Anonymous, declared it was “pure democracy”. “No leaders, no hierarchy, no cointelpro [counter-intelligence program] drama. And we are a living, moving mass of like-minded individuals.” He added: “You don’t need to be ‘anonymous’ or need to hack to be Anonymous. It’s an idea, not a job.” Read the whole Guardian article.

In the end, it is only by acting they can really prove who they are. One question remains. How can an non-organized entity be efficient? Behind their mask we can only guess what they are going to do or what they want. However, no doubt, they will anonymously prove us how being non-organized can still lead to efficiency.

Fabien Feissli

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  1. Anonymous Expression’s “We Are Legion for We are Many (The 99%) | Occupy Cyberspace – American Autumn
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