Anonymous: The Dark Side

By Daniel D’Amico, Trending Writer

Anonymous is a group of hacktivists, who profess strength in numbers and the betterment of the whole. However, although their aims may seem good, there are certain dangers associated with them. It is questionable whether some of the action they are taking is more positive or negative.

After the Paris attacks in November, Anonymous declared war on ISIS. They claimed to have had much success on the social media front already. It is reported that they took down roughly 20,000 ISIS related twitter accounts. Despite this being a cause that many would call just, others believe it to be causing more harm than good.

One of the dangers that has been seen in the ISIS campaign is the targeting of non-ISIS sympathizers. An article in the New York Times talks about the worry that Anonymous is shutting down those who are simply trying to observe the Islamic State. It identifies these people as those who follow the Islamic state, but do not support it.

Another area of criticism, aside from being a danger, is the complaint that they simply are not having much of an impact at all. An article in CBS News discusses how the growing size of Anonymous has contributed to a less effective, more chaotic group. They compare ISIS to a hydra from Greek mythology; when one account is taken down on a website such as Twitter, they replace it just as quickly.

Outside of the war on ISIS, other events, such as the events at Ferguson, have shown some of their negative actions. In an article in Time Magazine, it discusses that the group claimed to want justice for Michael Brown’s murder and also warned about harming the protesters. They said that they would shut down Ferguson City Hall’s website and phone lines, which was something they followed through with.

While many may say this action had good intentions, the danger comes in what followed. An Anonymous Twitter account released the wrong information of Brown’s killer. Although many in the group were against revealing the name, it is hard to stop a member from posting. This shows the possible chaos that can result from the loosely structured group.

An article in CNN expresses some other concerns about the group. Among their other actions include targeting the sites of MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and even the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. The concerns in cases like these have to do with enforcing the law when members go beyond it. It can be difficult to track down and catch the lawbreakers because they are so widespread and universal.

Despite the fact that they have not shown interest in pursuing more dangerous action, what they can do must be taken into account. Many regard them as cyber vigilantes and think that they are not justified in their actions be they good or bad. Many say that they have done good. However, it is hard to control a group so widespread and the possibility for more serious action should always be recognized.

 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 8th print edition.

Contact Daniel at
daniel.damico@student.shu.edu

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