Anonymous, Operation Facebook, and the Politics of Hacking

Who says hackers have no morals?

The ominous threats that the hacking group Anonymous was going to take down Facebook on November 5, 2011 turned out to be empty.  Facebook was functional on Saturday with no signs of a crisis.  While it is worth noting that Facebook could have thwarted the attempt somehow and chose not to announce it to the public, the more likely reality is that there was never a plan to do so to begin with.  Twitter and Facebook accounts representing the Anonymous group showed that there was no unanimous support among members for Operation:  Facebook.  Different Tweets and Facebook posts indicated that there were plenty of people supposedly connected to the hacking juggernaut that did not feel an attack on Facebook was necessary or appropriate.  Additionally, the whole thing was not in the normal mode of operation for Anonymous.  This hacking group does not give tons of notice when it plans on doing something, for the obvious reason to not give the target time to prepare measures against it.  Operation: Facebook was announced way in advance, giving way too much warning.

It is much more likely that a few people were able to pull off an elaborate deception by posing as member of Anonymous and making the threat.  This practice is becoming more and more common and echoes the way terrorism works throughout the world.  Terrorist groups are famous for releasing threats that never happen (and were never intended to happen), and they also will often take credit for a successful attack even if they had nothing to do with it.  Like terrorists, the goal of a hacking operation is to instill the fear that they are capable of such things into the many more than to actually cause the event to become a reality.  That is why they give warning at all.  A group like Anonymous will give a very limited notice of a major hacking operation only 24 to 48 hours before it is to take place.  They want to give the target very little time to prepare, but still have announced it so that when they do claim responsibility, the world will know that they made good on their word.  It’s like a hacking version of “I told you so.”

So, who are the real ones behind the mask?

The reasoning behind the supposed Facebook attack was to bring attention to some of the social media titan’s privacy policies, especially the way it processes and utilizes user information.  However, the Anonymous “movement” claims to be about much more than just taking down this or that organization.  It is about spreading information.  To take down Facebook would actually stop the spread of information, going against one of the group’s most prominent goals.  Many of the messages posted harped on this.  Members of Anonymous are not hungry for attention, so the idea that someone used their namesake to try to create a big splash didn’t set well with them.  And besides, as any good Common Sense Conspiracy reader knows, the Anonymous group has their hands full with a bitter battle of wits with a Mexican drug cartel that probably is currently soaking up a lot of their resources.