‘Hacktivist’ group Anonymous
As racial tensions in the US continue to make headlines, the ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous is back in focus with social media handles believed to be associated with it promising retribution for the death of George Floyd.
- On May 28, in a video posted on an unconfirmed Facebook page, a speaker wearing Anonymous’s signature Guy Fawkes mask accused the Minneapolis police of having a “horrific track record of violence and corruption” and threatened to “expose” its “many crimes”.
- Since then, the group has been accused of carrying out a cyberattack on the websites of the city of Minneapolis and its police department, making them temporarily inaccessible.
- The webpage of a United Nations agency was also defaced, and replaced with a memorial
carrying an Anonymous symbol that read “Rest In Power, George Floyd!”
- The group has been described as a decentralised online collective with no particular political affiliation that rallies around causes such as opposing censorship and government control and promoting freedom of speech.
- In the past, it has expressed support for the Occupy movement and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks.
- The worldwide group is believed to include anyone who wants to join; its members being referred to as ‘anons’.
- A signature characteristic of Anonymous is the Guy Fawkes mask, portrayed in the dystopian novel and film ‘V for Vendetta’,in which an anarchist anti-hero wearing the mask fights against a fascist, white supremacist government.
- Even beyond the internet, sympathisers of the movement have sported the Guy Fawkes at rallies around the world.
- Another attribute of the group is the use of voice changers or text-to-speech programmes that let anons masks their voice in video messages.
- Anonymous does not use any verified social media handles, with multiple factions using portals such as the ‘AnonNews’ website and Twitter account for disseminating the group’s motives and campaigns.