(Credit: illustration by James Martin/CNET)
by Elinor Mills November 4, 2011 C/NET
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service, and the AssociatedPress.
Don’t worry Facebook users, the sky is not falling–you’ll be able to update your status and post those Occupy Wall Street photos tomorrow.
Members of Anonymous fed up with reports that the online activist group is going to take down the social network said today that the threat is not real and was the work of one lone member without any support from others in the group. They said it doesn’t make sense to shut down a site they use to get their message out.
“Anonymous is a movement we don’t take kindly to when people try to (expletive) it up. Our movement relies on communicating with people around the world so we can help one another,” a statement posted to Pastebin today said.
“One skiddy queer chap named Anthony [last name redacted] from the US in Ohio decided to take it upon himself to have some lulz with creating an imaginary opfacebook and pawning it off as a legit anon op,” the statement said. “Despite us telling this mate several times we did not support his op, he continued to push his agenda for lulz. This op is phony but he continues to say it’s an anon op.”
The statement then provides an address, phone number, and other information ostensibly belonging to the individual named. (We’ve chosen not to include his last name in this post.)
“If you are against how we communicate on facebook, twitter, and anonops for example then you are against anonymous and become our enemy since you are trying to disrupt our movement,” the statement says. “Because of this we decided to social the Opfacebook skiddy and hack him. Give this wanker a call and tell him what a piece of rubbish he is.”
A woman who answered the phone number listed in the statement for the alleged provocateur confirmed that someone with his name lives there but said he was not home and wasn’t involved with Anonymous. No doubt she’ll be getting a lot of prank calls this weekend.
Anonymous sources and people familiar with the group have previously told CNET that the campaign against Facebook was the work of a rogue member and not a legitimate threat.
This case brings up the difficulty of dealing with a movement that lacks leaders and whose members are all nameless and faceless. If Anonymous can be anyone and no one is identified then no one is accountable for anything and anyone can take an action in the name of Anonymous. Some kid in his parents house in Ohio can make a threat that causes a media frenzy and public panic for naught.
Meanwhile, some threats made by Anonymous members can pose all-too-real risks to human life. Members of Anonymous in Mexico canceled a threat against the Zetas drug cartel after the return of an Anonymous member who was kidnapped. The message that innocent people would die if Anonymous exposed any information on cartel associates also played a part in that decision.
Learning to pick your battles is wise.
Originally posted at InSecurity Complex