Anonymous threatens to destroy Facebook (or not?)

In strong words, Anonymous condemns Facebook for its violation of user’s privacy. In addition, the collective announces that on November 5, Facebook will be destroyed. November 5 is Guy Fawkes’ Night in the UK, on which people celebrate the foiling of the gunpowder plot to blow up the House of Lords. The Guy Fawkes’ mask worn by the character ‘V’ in the film ‘V for Vendetta‘, has been adopted by members of Anonymous (or their supporters) and Anonymous has made references to Guy Fawkes before.

Anonymous uses ominous sounding words to describe itself:

We are Anonymous
We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
Expect us

But what is Anonymous? Are they for real and can they do this? Is Anonymous really dangerous? This post is more or less the result of my own investigation (modest as it is) into Anonymous and my own opinion on the matter. it’s by no means an exhaustive investigation or an in depth look at the phenomenon. In short, take everything you’re about to read with a pinch of salt because I am no expert on matters Anonymous.

What is Anonymous?

Well, no one knows for sure. Possibly not even Anonymous knows for sure because they are not a group in the traditional sense of the word. There is no leadership, no rules to follow, no membership cards or benefits. There are no official spokespersons. Even Anonymous (or people claiming to be) contradict Anonymous, but this is also an indication that the movement is not uniform or that people are deliberately spreading misinformation. However, there does seem to be an agenda. A reaction against any kind of restriction of free speech, free availability and dissemination of information, privacy infringement and such. Anonymous seems to campaign against our corporate overlords and governments that tread on our liberties and privacy all too casually.
Personally, I feel Anonymous is something new and quite unique, made possible by the internet and their knowledge of how to remain hidden online. Never before in the history of mankind has it been possible for people to communicate with such ease and on such a scale. It’s never been easier to get in touch with like minded individuals and to organize things on a global scale. The origin of Anonymous seems to trace back to the 4chan image boards but it has become much bigger than people meeting to discuss images. Exactly what it has become, is hard to define. Anonymous is a grassroots movement, fluid and intangible. They have been called script-kiddies, terrorists, internet vandals, freedom fighters, heroes and much more. And quite possibly, some of them are just that. Perhaps not terrorists, but certainly there are people inside Anonymous who are willing and able to operate beyond the borders of the law. That may make them terrorists in the eyes of some but equally makes them freedom fighters in the eyes of others. It all depends on your viewpoint. What is clear though, is that Anonymous generally appears to be disgruntled about the way governments and big corporations are exploiting or oppressing their citizens or users and are angry enough to act.

Could Anonymous destroy Facebook?

While there is  doubt that the video above is actually from Anonymous, let’s assume for a fact that it is true. Could Anonymous destroy Facebook? A lot depends on how you define “destroy”. If you take it to mean that after November 5, there will be no more Facebook, that is probably an exaggeration. Facebook has become big business and has an extensive network with (hopefully) adequate security in place. And now that they have been informed, they have time to prepare for an attack that would come in from the internet. Anonymous is certainly capable of knocking Facebook offline though as they have demonstrated in the past numerous times, most notably perhaps their attack on Visa and Mastercard, after they stopped processing donations for Wikileaks. Anonymous could also sit on condemning corporate information concerning Facebook which they are planning to release on November 5. Public awareness of this information might lead to a backlash against Facebook or maybe even criminal charges. There may even be Anons (as the members of Anonymous are called) inside of Facebook itself who are planning to do something on November 5.  Without more information, it is hard to judge what is going to happen.

Is Anonymous dangerous?

It depends on who you are and how you look at it, really. If you are a corporation or government and they have you in their sights, things could become uncomfortable really quickly. The Church of Scientology has found this out, as have Mastercard and Visa as mentioned above. Anonymous has released confidential information concerning police officers, internal documents and email from HBGary, a security firm that set out to expose members of Anonymous, restricted documents from NATO, email addresses and passwords for executives of the newspaper “News of the World” involved in the hacking scandal of that paper and other potentially damaging information. If you were on the receiving end of one of these or numerous other actions, you’d probably agree that Anonymous is a very dangerous collective, it’s members are terrorists and they should be persecuted.
But those releases are just part of what Anonymous is. It has a soft face too, for instance going to great lengths to find a person who harmed a dog or a cat. Anonymous has set up ways that allow Chinese citizens to bypass the Great Firewall,  and has been involved in campaigns in the Middle East for more freedom. If you are a member of the general public, Anonymous is not a danger to you, unless you fear freedom of information, freedom of speech and freedom of oppression. In that sense, Anonymous is fighting your battle for you and they are in the forefront. They are not out to harm you but to set you free, whether you believe it or not. You should not believe what you see on TV about Anonymous because the old media have proven time and time again that they do not understand the internet.

If you are in favour of freedom of speech, freedom of oppression, if you are against the continuing invasion of your privacy by both governments and corporations alike then you may not approve of the methods some Anons use. Not all Anons do either, apparently. What is clear though, is that Anonymous is getting things done, they are getting into the media and getting their radical message out there. And they are doing it anonymously. Anyone could be an Anon.

For more information, please see these links:
What is the Plan
AnonOps Blog
The Register