Identifying Anonymous: An idealistic enigma

Logan Pierce, editor-in-chief

For more than five years the quasi-group Anonymous’ unique brand of hacking has left an indelible mark on Internet culture. Portions of their influence eventually seeped into the real world.

While Anonymous boasts no formal organization or leadership, it has adopted certain

one of the many Anonymous icons

icons, including the image of a faceless business suit and the Guy Fawkes mask, (made famous from the film “V for Vendetta”). Anonymous’ mantra is “We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”

The mysterious nature of Anonymous, coupled with the imagery, paints a picture of a 21st century Robin Hood; an unstoppable, faceless force of nature.

Hidden Agenda

Anonymous has no official position regarding controversial issues such as abortion, health care, taxes, global warming, or Occupy Wall Street. Anonymous aficionados, known as Anons, can disagree on these and other issues while still being part of Anonymous.

This is not to say that Anonymous is not without ideals. In fact, ideals are what unites Anons. According to analysis from the Extra Credits series, Anonymous stands for:

1. Freedom of Information

2. Freedom of Speech

3. Unregulated Internet

4. Generally only attacks groups that either directly attacked them, or infringes on their core ideals

5. Does not engage in criminal activity for the financial benefit of Anons

6. Believes in mischief for the “lulz” (i.e. kicks and giggles)

Secret, but fun

Anonymous’ first major act of defiance was against the social networking game, “Habbo Hotel,” where people create avatars and socialize in a virtual hotel setting. In 2005, rumors spread through 4chan, (online message board used by Anons), that Habbo’s social moderators were abusing their ability to ban people, targeting black-avatar users.

At this notion of inferred racism, Anons began flooding the game with black-avatars, dressed in suits and Afro wigs. Their avatars blocked doorways and walkways, cutting off access to certain features in the game, most notably the swimming pool.

“Pool’s closed” became the rallying cry for the operation, culminating with a mass raid July 12, 2006, where hundreds of Anons swarmed the game, eventually causing Habbo Hotel to go offline for a while.

Anonymous’ most recent planned attack is against the social network goliath, Facebook. On Nov. 5, Anons plan to shut down Facebook, accusing them of selling their users security information.

According to an Anonymous press release, “Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is completely false. It gives users the illusion of [choice] and hides the details away from them ‘for their own good’ while they then make millions off of you. When a service is ‘free,’ it really means they’re making money off of you and your information.”

Anons Response

Anonymous responded to the threat against Facebook, denouncing it. Citing, in a tweet, that “Operation: Facebook” will be carried out by “rouge” Anons, and is not endorsed by the majority of Anonymous. “We don’t “kill” the messenger,” Anonymous said, “That’s not our style.”

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