Anonymous: Robin Hoods of the cyberworld

Jimmy Oliver, Editor-in-chief

In the midst of great public unrest throughout the Western world due to the terrorist attacks in Paris, and more recently, Belgium, an unknown hero has stepped up to take on the world’s evils. Just hours after the terrorist attacks in the Belgian capital of Brussels, online group Anonymous has once again declared war on ISIS, the terrorist group who claimed responsibility for the atrocity. Similar to what they did following the November 2015 attacks in Paris, Anonymous released another video just recently to revive their online battle against terrorism.

Starting on the online forum of 4chan in 2003, Anonymous is a ragtag group of internet hackers who, without any formal leadership or hierarchy, stage publicity-stunts and Internet “trolling” against any people, organization, or government that they find oppressive or threatening to humanity. “Trolling” can include anything from prank calling to black faxing, sending a fax completely filled with black toner, used to drain the person’s ink cartridges very quickly. Through their use of both online and public actions, Anonymous was coined as “hacktivists,” using the typically frowned-upon method of hacking and trolling to make positive change in the world.

To announce their actions to the public, videos featuring an unidentifiable Anonymous member wearing a Guy Fawkes mask speaks with a computerized voice, a look that has become synonymous with the group. These videos are fairly simple, and often unsettling for the viewer, as they are meant to be threats to their targets. Nobody knows who, exactly, the person behind the mask is, hence the name Anonymous. The mystery, however, has been uncovered several times in the past, as several Anonymous members have had run-in’s with authorities. For example, Dmitry Guzner, an American 19-year-old and Anonymous member, was sentenced to a year in prison for his role in a cyber attack on the Church of Scientology, another primary target for the hackers. The US National Security Agency has also denounced the actions of Anonymous, explaining their threat to national security and the American power grid. These accusations are, however, not completely justified, as Anonymous has never truly threatened the American government or its people.

Now that terrorism has once again struck in the Western world, Anonymous released another video, urging people, whether they are skillful hackers or not, to fight against terrorism and discrimination in their society, providing instructions to anyone willing to help the cause. “You don’t have to hack them. If you stand up against discrimination in your country, you harm them much more than by hacking their websites.”

Originally, the group “declared war” on ISIS following the attacks in Paris. In the weeks and months following those events, the hacktivists claimed to have taken down over 20,000 Twitter accounts that were linked to several terrorist organizations. Before that, the group combated several more organizations like the Church of Scientology and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Beginning as a mere online chatroom, Anonymous has evolved from a group of “computer nerds” just looking for laughs, to becoming online vigilante’s, using normally illegal hacking to bring justice to the cyberworld. Now, Anonymous has become a movement of sorts, rather than a strictly online group, fighting against injustice and oppression both at home and abroad. Some would argue that Anonymous is a nuisance to the cyberworld, only bringing conflict and chaos to a crucial part of contemporary society. Others, however, see the Guy Fawkes mask as a symbol of justice and equality. It’s impossible to predict what they will do next and who their targets will be. But, one thing is for certain, Anonymous has the power, knowledge, and motivation to be a crucial role in the war against oppression and terror.