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Anonymous Internet Group: What Is It?

Over the last couple of years we have been seeing more news stories popping up all over the globe about the mysterious sounding 'Anonymous' and their many acts of hacktivism and general chaos. This has led to many explanations by those same media sources about what Anonymous is, where they come from, and their purpose. Some sources have even gone in depth about this hacker/terrorist group (as they are so often called), and asks if they should be monitored as a serious threat.

But who are they really, and what should you know about them?

The Internet Hate Machine

Forget what you have heard, Anonymous is not some organized shadow group patrolling the web. Nor are they a group of activists with a goal in mind for setting the world right to their standards. In fact, they are not a group at all, nor made up of the same people at any given moment.

They are actually a loose group of random people on the web who come and go at any given moment, occasionally joining causes or raids that are set in motion by other random people on the web. When you go onto certain websites, forums or message boards (4chan's /b/ and 7chan's /i/ are usually the boards mentioned most), you will find people posting under the name Anonymous. Which is loosely where the term came from.

Most of the time images are shared, and sometimes links. These are discussed in threads, memes are created or beaten like a dead horse, and some light bullying is encountered. More or less what you would expect from a message board with a primary demographic of teenagers, with a few older users thrown in.

Every once in awhile, something is brought to the attention of the site or board via another anonymously posting user. This is primarily a target that has been found on the web, such as Youtube or Facebook, that has done something to capture the eye of the poster. While Anonymous has the “rule” that they are “not your personal army”, this is often ignored for the sake of raiding or trolling the target.  For example the calls that went on for months to Gamestop locations all over the world (or more recently the shop behind Pawn Stars on the History Channel), asking for Battletoads. Or the

The term “Internet Hate Machine” has long since been used to describe Anonymous, as well as the creed “We do not forgive, we do not forget”.

Anonymous On Causes

This isn't always the case. Sometimes an actual cause will be brought up, and a group of people using the Anonymous heading will band together for a common goal. Examples of this were the IRL meetings and Denial of Service attacks against Scientology, and the recent website attacks of Israeli run sites in retaliation for rocket launches on Gaza.

Again, this does not make Anonymous an official group. These raids and actions are just as likely to gain attention from another group doing the opposite thing at the same time, under the same header. But this fact is the reason Anonymous has gotten reputation for being both an organization, and a potential threat as hackers or domestic terrorists. Occasionally, so-called 'members' of Anonymous or claimed subgroups will  be arrested for breaking into official or business websites and trying to extract records. But they are not generally related, despite media misunderstandings.

Why Does the Media Report Anonymous as a Group

Ignorance, probably...they just don't know any better. But sensationalism is also a likely culprit. Minor website strikes by unknown individuals they can't name sounds a lot less exciting than a mysterious, shadowy hacker group that is politically motivated, and potential villains and/or unsung heroes of the modern age.

That doesn't mean that people under the header of Anonymous have not been a part of some serious undertakings, because they have. But that isn't generally the point of the title, or the purpose of the Internet Hate Machine. Slightly annoying, childish pranks and casual cruelty are.

Photo Credit: Anonymous9000


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