Until last week, nobody paid much attention to a quiet little video on YouTube that was posted by the new user account “FacebookOP” last month. Despite the fact that it bears the hallmarks of an Anonymous video (same logo, same robotic voice, claiming to be Anonymous), it enjoyed surprisingly little interest or circulation until it was picked up by both German and Spanish media outlets last week (who apparently ran out of things to report). However, it has now gone viral, with over 2 million hits on YouTube and coverage by media outlets around the world. But still, people seem skeptical about the video for two reasons:
#1. The production quality is not up to the standards of other Anonymous videos, and the collective of hackers has denied making the video.
#2. The video claims that coming November 5th (Guy Fawkes Day, for anyone paying attention to the mask-wearing antics of Anonymous), hackers will destroy Facebook.
Anonymous is a group that promotes civil disobedience (relayed through anonymous internet communiqués) via public gatherings of protest (in which members arrive incognito by way of Guy Fawkes masks) and hacktivism, a means of protest that utilizes computer networking. Their main goal is to promote the freedoms of speech and unfettered internet usage. Along those lines, the collective has been associated with dozens of instances of raiding (logging onto a site en masse in order to protest or take down the site), distributed denial of service, or DDoS attacks (hitting a site with enough incoming information to temporarily make it unavailable to users), defacing/vandalizing websites, and stealing information and leaking it to the public (such as the names and passwords for email accounts belonging to Middle Eastern government officials engaging in censorship).
Most recently, the group was cited for their participation in leaking Bank of America documents said to prove corruption, fraud, and improper foreclosure practices, as well as the outage on the PlayStation Network (which was linked to their attacks on the Sony website), although Anonymous has denied involvement with the latter. Of course, the difficulty with nailing down this group is that it is nameless, faceless, leaderless, and virtually hidden. Members cease to participate in the “organization” once they have been identified, so that the collective that claims the name Anonymous is a constantly changing group, many of whom operate autonomously when they’re not gathering in small pockets to protest collectively.
So while AnonOps, the entity that interfaces with the public on behalf of Anonymous, has stated via Twitter that FacebookOP is a fake masquerading as Anonymous, and that killing Facebook isn’t their style (isn’t it?), there is really no way to tell since one hand may not know what the other is doing. Ah, the trials and tribulations of running an anonymous hacktivist group. In any case, the story has gained some momentum due to the video’s allegations that Facebook is selling user information to government agencies (for the purposes of spying) and keeping information even after users have deleted accounts, as well as the claim that Anonymous will orchestrate a website takedown of massive proportions (even slowing down a site like Facebook would be difficult). Unfortunately, this is no real way to determine the validity of any of these claims, but come November 5th, Facebook users are bound to find out whether or not the anonymous voice in the video is serious.