- “Hacktivist” collective Anonymous has burst back into public consciousness after a Facebook account purporting to be affiliated with the group published a video calling out the Minneapolis Police Department on May 28.
- Since then, people are attributing events like the Minneapolis Police Department’s website temporarily going down to Anonymous. In certain cases, like with the Minneapolis police website, accounts affiliated with the group appeared to take responsibility.
- People have also begun to make Anonymous memes and fancams in light of the collective’s renewed fame.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
On May 28, a familiar figure in a Guy Fawkes mask broke back into public digital consciousness. By all accounts it seemed like hacktivist group Anonymous was back: a video posted on a Facebook page with approximately 11 million followers that appears to be affiliated with Anonymous brought about what many heralded as the return of the group. Per the video, Anonymous has re-emerged amid protests that followed the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Anonymous is a “hacktivist” collective that emerged out of 4chan in the early 2000s. Per Wired, the group would conduct “raids” that ranged from distributed-denial-of-service attacks to rickrolling people. Wired reports that the group gained a political consciousness while going after the Church of Scientology. Since then, it’s gained a reputation for targeting those who misuse power, although the group is decentralized and has no distinguishable command structure — its tagline is “we are legion.”
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Now, Anonymous appears to have directly addressed the Minneapolis Police Department. In the video, the Anonymous speaker says, “Police brutality and murder is a widespread problem in the United States, which has undoubtedly infected nearly every jurisdiction in the country. But the Minneapolis Police Department is among the worst and has a horrific track record of violence and corruption.”
The speaker goes on to call for the four officers involved in Floyd’s killing to face charges, and for Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for approximately eight minutes, to face murder charges. Chavuin will reportedly face second-degree murder charges, and the other three officers will reportedly be charged with aiding and abetting murder.
The video quickly circulated on social media: it currently has approximately 3.6 million views on Facebook; one tweet featuring a portion of the video currently has approximately 1 million likes.
An Anonymous-affiliated account claimed responsibility for taking down the Minneapolis Police Department’s website
On Saturday, May 30, the Minneapolis Police Department website, as well as the City of Minneapolis website, appeared to become unavailable as people tweeted about not being able to access them. Per Variety, access to both sites on Sunday was still shaky, with the sites requiring visitors to verify that they weren’t bots via captcha using a front-end hosted by Cloudflare, an internet security firm. Variety reports that the captcha verification was a signal that the sites were sustaining a DDoS — distributed denial of service — attack, which overwhelms sites with traffic.
On May 30, people on Twitter quickly connected the Anonymous video and the presumed DDoS attack, heralding Anonymous as having taken down the site.
On May 31, an Anonymous-affiliated Twitter account attributed the website takedown among other things to the group.
As The Daily Dot reported, reports also emerged on Twitter on May 30 that someone had gotten access to police radio in Chicago and were playing N.W.A.’s “Fuck Tha Police.” People were quick to claim that Anonymous was behind the act.
Then, word circulated online that Anonymous had leaked the email addresses and passwords of Minneapolis Police, although security researcher Troy Hunt found that 95% of the data had already been leaked in previous breaches. Then, tweets circulated that claimed that Anonymous had leaked documents that allegedly showed that President Trump had been “involved in child rape and sex trafficking with Jeffrey Epstein” (Vice reported that the documents in question were old and had previously been debunked). There’s also been unconfirmed chatter about Anonymous exposing the “truth” behind the death of Princess Diana.
Of course, even with the Anonymous-affiliated Twitter account claiming responsibility from some of these acts, none have actually been connected to the group in a tangible way.
There are a number of Twitter accounts that claim to be associated with Anonymous
Anonymous doesn’t appear to have a central, official social media account given the fact that it doesn’t have central leadership. Rather, there is a loose collection of accounts claiming to be tied to Anonymous that gained an increasing amount of attention and scrutiny in the days since the video addressing the Minneapolis PD began circulating online.
One of the most popular Anonymous-branded accounts on Twitter, @YourAnonCentral, paradoxically has both “Official #Anonymous” and “There are no official accounts” in its bio. The account, which has approximately 5.8 million followers, joined Twitter in Sep. 2011; it has recently sustained accusations on Twitter for being a “fake” Anonymous account and people are circulating screenshots of tweets reportedly from the account (at least some appear to have been deleted) containing transphobic rhetoric. Other anonymous accounts include @AnonPress (joined Dec. 2010, approx. 250,000 followers), @AnonymousPress (joined Dec. 2010, approx. 591,000 followers), and @AnonyOps (joined Dec. 2010, approx. 636,000 followers), among others.
The most popular account claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous is @YourAnonCentral, which joined Twitter in April 2011 and currently has 7.1 million followers. The account recently retweeted an article from Techworm regarding the Minnesota Senate website reportedly going offline due to a hacker attack on June 2, apparently quoting the classic “all your base are belong to us” meme.
Since Anonymous came back into mainstream digital consciousness, people have been making memes and fancams
People have been making fancams of Anonymous in light of the group’s renewed internet fame, compiling images and videos of people wearing the classic Guy Fawkes mask and images from Anonymous’ social media presence.
There’s plenty of Anonymous meme content on TikTok as well.
The hypothetically Anonymous-affiliated Twitter accounts are more than aware of the new fame — and some of the implications that come with it.
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