Since the dawn of the internet age, activists have been talking about going digital. Some of them even pioneered tactics for electronic civil disobedience.
But it wasn’t until a subculture of hackers became politicized that a popular movement took off. The result is a subversive, unapologetic, and surprisingly powerful activism. Anonymous may have a reputation for pranks and crime, but by early 2011 the group’s reputation as an influential, if loosely organized, hacktivist collective was solidified.
Keep up with Anonymous at AnonNews.org
Anonymous (used as a mass noun) is a loosely associated international network of activists and hacktivists. A website associated with the group describes it as “an internet gathering” with “a very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives”. The group became known for a series of well-publicized hacks and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites.
Anonymous originated in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain. The group is also associated with the satirical open wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica. Anonymous members (known as “Anons”) can be distinguished in public by the wearing of stylised Guy Fawkes masks.
In its early form, the concept was adopted by a decentralized online community acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment, or “lulz“. Beginning with 2008’s Project Chanology—a series of protests, pranks, and hacks targeting the Church of Scientology—the Anonymous collective became increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism.
Anons undertook protests and other actions in retaliation against anti-digital piracy campaigns by motion picture and recording industry trade associations. Later targets of Anonymous hacktivism included government agencies of the US, Israel, Tunisia, Uganda, and others; child pornography sites; copyright protection agencies; the Westboro Baptist Church; and corporations such as PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, and Sony.
Anons have publicly supported WikiLeaks and the Occupy movement. Related groups LulzSec and Operation AntiSec carried out cyberattacks on US government agencies, media, video game companies, military contractors, military personnel, and police officers.
Dozens of people have been arrested for involvement in Anonymous cyberattacks, in countries including the US, UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey.
Evaluations of the group’s actions and effectiveness vary widely. Supporters have called the group “freedom fighters” and digital Robin Hoods while critics have described them as “a cyber lynch-mob” or “cyber terrorists”. In 2012, Time called Anonymous one of the “100 most influential people” in the world.
~~A message from Anonymous~~
Uploaded on Mar 28, 2008
It has come to the attention of Anonymous that there are a number of you out there who do not clearly understand what we are or why we have undertaken our present course of action. Contrary to the assumptions of the media, Anonymous is not simply “a group of super hackers”.
Anonymous is a collective of individuals united by an awareness that someone must do the right thing, that someone must bring light to the darkness, that someone must open the eyes of a public that has slumbered for far too long. Among our numbers you will find individuals from all walks of life – lawyers, parents, IT professionals, members of law enforcement, college students, veterinary technicians and more.
Anonymous is everyone and everywhere. We have no leaders, no single entity directing us – only the collective outrage of individuals, guiding our hand in the current efforts to bring awareness.
We want you to be aware of the very real dangers of Scientology. We want you to know about the gross human rights violations committed by this cult. We want you to know about Lisa McPhearson. We want you to know about former members of Scientology’s private navy, SeaOrg, who were forced to have abortions so that they could continue in service to the church. We want you to know about Scientology’s use of child labor and their gulags. We want you to know about Operation Freakout and Paulette Cooper.
We want you to know about Operation Snow White and Scientology’s efforts to infiltrate the government of the United States of America.We want you to know about all of these things that have been swept under the rug for far too long. The information is out there. It is yours for the taking. Arm yourself with knowledge. Be very wary of the 10th of February. Anonymous invites you to join us in an act of solidarity. Anonymous invites you to take up the banner of free speech, of human rights, of family and freedom.
Join us in protest outside of Scientology centers world wide.
We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. We will be heard. Expect us.
We ALL are ONE!!
An image commonly associated with Anonymous. The “man without a head” represents leaderless organization and anonymity.
Individuals appearing in public as Anonymous, wearing Guy Fawkes masks
|Membership||Decentralized affinity group|
We ALL fight the fight!!