Melissa Lee Nilles
Arts& Reviews Editor
Illustration by Sarah Good
A prominent cyberspace group called “Anonymous” is not-so-silently wreaking both silly and consequential havoc inside of the internet world, billing their brand of cyber hacking and “trolling” as organized civil disobedience.
The group has an increasing presence in the mainstream media, having become famous for acts such as cyber-attacks on Oprah (9,000 penises, anyone?), starting meme trends such as “Rick rolling” and helping controversial WikiLeaks head Julian Assange shut down a bank website.
Recently, Anonymous announced plans via their main source of communication (the Internet, duh) for a supposed attack on the popular networking site Facebook. According to posted YouTube videos, their “Kill Facebook” attack is scheduled for Nov. 5.
Leaders of the attack have been quoted as saying they plan to “kill Facebook” because of its much debated use of users’ personal information, and selling of user data for advertising, amongst other issues.
Anonymous’s mass-disseminated YouTube video tries its best to give literal meaning to the term “anonymous” when describing the group. The group originated on the popular yet controversial forum site 4chan, which hosts regular content as well as pornographic and arguably disturbing content. Duly because of the potential incrimination that one could face from posting controversial content, and a desire to maintain a level of randomness and chaos that is characteristic of 4chan’s users, most users post in the forum with the username “anonymous.” Thus, the idea of everyone on the Internet being anonymous individuals that belong to the larger group “Anonymous” was born.
In Anonymous’s posted YouTube video, the group’s symbol, which is of a man in a tuxedo with a question mark for a face, is displayed in the center of a gray screen, with some visual distortion ripples running through the screen. To add to the video’s secrecy (some might say terror), a disembodied voice that has been heavily distorted by a computer disseminates the group’s message regarding their planned activities, and explains their motivation for choosing Facebook as their target.
“Your medium of communication you all so dearly adore will be destroyed,” said the disembodied voice representing the members of Anonymous in the posted YouTube video. “Facebook has been selling information to government agencies, and giving clandestine access to information security firms so they can spy on people from all around the world.”
The speaker also describes Anonymous’s collective motivation for the planned attack, voicing concerns about user privacy and raising speculation about Facebook’s unwarranted use of user information.
“Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your privacy settings, and deleting your account is impossible,” said Anonymous. “Even if you delete your account, all your personal info stays on Facebook and can be recovered at anytime. Changing the privacy settings so you’ll make your Facebook account more private is also a delusion. Facebook knows more about you than your family.”
Anonymous’s spokesperson addressed his or her targeted audience, saying, “You cannot hide from the reality in which you, the people of the Internet, live in.”
Whether or not you support the ideas behind Anonymous’s attack, it is certainly possible that Anonymous’s hacking may cause tangible real-world effects as well that affect Facebook’s more than 800 million active users, over 50 percent of which log on to Facebook on any given day. This idea of “killing” Facebook may mean that Anonymous intends to cause problems by destroying company or user data, making it impossible use Facebook for a day, or destroying Facebook for good, in some still unknown way. Whether this threat is interpreted as fallacy or foe, it is apparent that it is causing a stir in the Internet world, so be on your toes as an informed Facebook user Nov. 5 for whatever comes your way in cyberspace.