Saturday, August 18, 2007
Who is Anonymous?
There's been a lot of talk around the feminist blogosphere regarding what "Anonymous" actually is. I first heard about Anonymous from someone on Second Life who was explaining the Hal Turner chronicles. Hal Turner is a pretty pathetic jerk who runs a right-wing white-power radio show. He was close friends with Sean Hannity and frequently called in to his show until Hannity started getting popular and no longer wanted to be associated with an avowed racist. At some point, Hal's activities came to the attention of folks who go by the name of "Anonymous".
"Anonymous" is the name used by an amorphous group of people who frequent several different sites on the internet: 4chan, 7chan, 420chan, Encyclopedia Dramatica. These sites are primarily used to post and share porn but they are also used to coordinate pranks. No one is in charge of Anonymous. No identifying information is used. Anyone can post a link to some site or suggest a "raid" but the only way they get carried out is if the idea seems sufficiently funny to a significant amount of readers. If it is appealing, then perhaps one person will go and do something mildly annoying to the target. If the target exhibits what Anonymous considers a reaction that is disproportionate to the level of annoyance, then they'll take it up a notch and see just how much of a rise they can get out of the target. How far it progresses past that point depends on how many laughs Anonymous thinks it can continue to get from the situation. The best thing a target can do is simply ignore Anonymous. It really is the best option available. Trust me. If you fail to heed this advice, you may wind up becoming a permanent target. You do not want this happen unless you are willing to leave off from using the internet for the next few years.
In the first raid I heard about, Anonymous decided that harassing Hal Turner would definitely result in "epic lulz" (i.e. lots of laughs). Hal posted someone's personal information on his blog and refused to remove it. To Anonymous, this act needed to be avenged. So, they went and found out more about Hal than the guy could ever have dreamed possible. After that, they proceeded to post his information all over the internet. They were able to show that he was basically conning the racists who sent him money thinking that he needed thousands of dollars just to broadcast his radio show. This did not sit well with the folks at Vanguard News Network and other similar sites. Hal instantly became a persona non grata. To be honest, I thought it was rather hilarious! The idea that someone had managed to turn his white supremacist buddies against him just amused me to no end. To this day, Anonymous is still wrecking havoc in Hal's life. I can't say I feel sorry for him at all.
As of late, several women have had their blogs raided by Anonymous. I've talked about one of them a few times here on My Private Casbah. Would you like to guess who I'm talking about? I'll give you a couple of hints. She has an extremely inflated ego. She's a (bleached) blonde. She's running for President of the United States, and her name isn't Hillary Clinton. If you haven't figured it out, you can read more about it here and here. I'm pretty sick of even mentioning these folks but, as should be expected, it involves the usual suspects whenever ridiculous rad-fems on the internets.
This post is only tangentially related to them. In some of the conversations about the recent Anonymous raids, some folks have claimed that these attacks were initiated by men's right's activists, political adversaries, et cetera. On Antiprincess' blog, I found a comment that a member of Anonymous wrote explaining who they actually are. I found it pretty interesting so I decided to post it here. I think that Anonymous represents a part of all of us that most people try to hide or get rid of. As with anything in life, inevitably, there are always going to be people who choose to nurture it instead.
Updated on 12-16-7: Removed Ebaumsworld reference. Several Anon's have pointed out why its users clearly aren't a part of Anonymous.