Friday, 5 July 2013

Anonymous

Anonymous emerged from infamous internet imageboard 4Chan and quickly rose to become one of the prominent names in today's mainstream politics. Although far more active on the other side of the pond they operate on an international stage and are associated with the Occupy movement, plus Wikileaks and their support of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden as well as performing DDOS attacks on a number of well known targets.

What Anonymous has evolved into is something far away from what it promised to be.  Through personal experience I know many people who claim to champion the group whilst almost completely blocking out its faults. You don't have to look back far to see where the internet has completely lost its head and descended into chaos. See: The Boston Bombings where social news site, Reddit, attempted to identify the perpetrated the crime alongside Anonymous' former home, 4Chan, but failed and ended up accusing a whole host of innocent members of the public whilst on their witch hunt.

For group that champions justice their 'Do Whatever You Like' attitude just takes it too far. Yes, free speech exists - but free speech should not give you the right to say hurtful and derogatory things to anybody. Particularly when you're disguised behind a mask. An example of which came on July 4th:





This is a huge worldwide organisation, that most people see as a force for good, bullying an individual, and that's just not right.

It's not as if these are small, irrelevant accounts either. @Anon_Central has 173,168 followers at the time of writing, including Tom Watson the now ex-Shadow Cabinet Minister. The 'Leader of Anonymous' or @SatanSek has 14,860, including cinema chain Odeon - explain that one to me. Anonymous hit the Time's 100 list in 2012. They're powerful.

The fact that for many people Anonymous is also a news source is somewhat worrying. A group that quite clearly pushes its own agenda shouldn't be treated as fact by huge amounts of people. For example, whilst Anonymous were still on the side of Julian Assange they helped to spread mis-truths about Assange's alleged crimes in Sweden, some of which are outlined in this rather good article in The Week. In December 2010 Assange's lawyer said:
"Whatever 'sex by surprise' is, it's only a offense in Sweden -- not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza. I feel as if I'm in a surreal Swedish movie being threatened by bizarre trolls. The prosecutor has not asked to see Julian, never asked to interview him, and he hasn't been charged with anything. He's been told he's wanted for questioning, but he doesn't know the nature of the allegations against him."
Anonymous, and many other organisations, jumped on this and started repeating it as fact. In reality Assange's extradition is over two counts of sexual molestation, one count of unlawful coercion, and one count of rape. Not, by any means, petty crimes. Assange himself knew the crimes against him, but that's for another day.

They expect people to believe they're a change for the better whilst holding their own barely-supressed anarchic beliefs. The Dark Knight seems apt here, 'Some men just want to watch the world burn'. So far a lot of their actions have been driven just for the fun of it. So much so that an offshoot of Anonymous was named 'LulzSec'. Publishing 26,000 passwords to a porn site, hacking Nintendo, taking down sites at the request of their 'fans'. There's no reason to it, it's out of hand. How does releasing personal details of law enforcement issues benefit anybody? Your average cop wasn't the one who passeArizona SB 1070. It's just digital terrorism, harming the citizen to get to their goal. 

I guess it comes down to that age old question, who guards the guardians? In this case it doesn't seem like anybody does. Yes, America's trying to arrest as many of them as possible but that's just turning them into martyrs. Where's the logic in giving them longer prison sentences than rapists? It just makes you seem as if you're clamping down on something that people want in today's world - one where all information should be freely available at your fingertips. They want a less intrusive government that they can hold to account.

There are a lot of reasons that many people have 'turned toward' anonymous. The handling of the Occupy movement - that pepper spray incident at the University of California springs to mind, Snowden's revelations over the monitoring of data, the way that social media helped 'liberate' people in the Arab Springs, the fact that people are so incredibly disillusioned with mainstream politics - especially after the banking crisis. A crisis which meant that millions of people globally lost their jobs, their homes, and a whole heap of money whilst the politicians seemed to want to cover the banking sectors. Alongside this Anonymous report breaking news faster than your traditional news outlets, though that may because they're not bound by having to check sources.

There's obviously a lot of good to come out of anonymous, they've aided the flow of information that governments try to hide, and on more than one occasion acted on moral and legal issues, and they've helped with pro-democracy demonstrations in the middle-east. Though McAfee reported that it the group's losing fans due to the completely disorganised nature of it all to be replaced by something more malicious. Which is maybe the exact time that Anonymous could be needed most.

Anonymous can be the group that people want it to be and not just the flash in the pan that it's perhaps becoming, but whilst too many no-goods hide behind its mask and use the group to do whatever they want the fashion will continue to fade into last season. They claim to be the people's mouth-piece whilst having an undercurrent of wanting total anarchy. Choose one or the other, but the wrong one will surely see people eventually lose support.