A presentation I made in Paul Jones' class at UNC.

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	•	I did my research on the online community “Anonymous”
	◦	Wouldn’t really refer to them as a “hacking” group, more like Internet vigilantes. 
	◦	To understand who they are, really need to understand their history

	•	Anonymous was born in the unfiltered online imageboard 4chan.org in 2006. 
	◦	4chan is organized into topics, called boards, the /b/ board was for “Random” content. 
	◦	The idea of /b/ was to post things that could not be unseen. Brewing place for trolls. 
	◦	Individuals could post as “Anonymous”, and the entity got its name from the thought that there could just be one entity “Anonymous” posting all this stuff
	•	At their core, they were trolls. 
	◦	Social networking site called Habbo Hotel  (you create an Avatar, walk around in a world. Rudimentary second life). Rumor of admins blocking dark skinned users. 
	▪	People on /b/ heard, and all dressed up as the same avatar. Form Swastikas, block pool entrance. 
	◦	There was a white nationalist,  Hal Turner, who apparently was targeting a member of Anon
	▪	DDoS’d him, pizzas, sent utilities he’d have to pay for. 
	▪	Ran him out of business. 
	▪	Hacked his site revealed he was an FBI informant
	◦	So both of these are trolling, but have a small moral component to them. These people thought they were doing something moral. 

	•	Everything changed with Project Chanology. 
	•	This is where Anonymous got mainstream press. 
	◦	Recall Tom Cruse video leaked, scientology DMCA’d Youtube and everyone who posted it. 
	•	Anonymous saw this as a censorship of the Internet; fought back. 
	•	They DDoS’d, they did phone calls to clog up their hotlines, they sent black faxes (to drain ink). 
	•	For the first time, they did physical protests. 
	•	Because Scientology is known for stalking and harassing their critics, Anons needed to protect their identity in person. So this is where the Guys Fawkes mask came from. 
	•	Interestingly, Church of Scientology has used methods similar to Anonymous to get its way. In order to escape tax exception (become a religious org), it got members to file thousands of lawsuits against individual IRS employees. 

	•	This resulted in a cultural rift in Anonymous
	•	Original group in it for the lolz, but now there was an influx of Hacktivists (people who were just motivated by something moral) 
	•	Some Anons wanted to restore their bad reputation by posting rapidly flashing animated gifs on epilepsy forums. 
	•	But it seems like the Hacktivists mostly won out. 
	•	Recall Paypal withdrawing donation acceptance for Wikileaks, so Anons attacked them. 
	•	Also attacked HBGary, and revealed HBGary’s proposal with Palantir to leak misinformation via Wikileaks. Proposal was for Bank of America, who somehow knew Wikileaks had docs on them. 
	•	Important to note that a very small portion of Anonymous is technically able. Many are just people who want to make a difference and using tools made by technically able. 

	•	Anonymous really operates exclusively on IRC channels. They can maintain a lot of control over the information storage (no third party, Google/Yahoo etc. is storing the mail). 

	•	In many ways, Anonymous and its origins don’t align with generation like. 
	•	The founder of 4chan once mentioned in a Ted Talk that people are moving toward “persistent identity”, such as Facebook, where “likes” mean a lot more. 
	◦	But with this comes a lack of privacy capable on the Internet. 

	•	Dana Boyd talks about how young people were flocking to social media to communicate with their friends, and they often did so publicly, until their parents showed up on the site. 
	•	In one of her chapters, talks about how so many young people found a way of being private while being public. 
	◦	Hiding in plain sight. 
	◦	Just like Anons use memes to identify each other (great clip of guy talking to Anon enemy saying “over 9000”). 

	•	Lee Raine’s Networked individual shows dramatic increase of users online
	◦	Really means a change in the way information is spread
	•	Which means new fronts for rebellion and opposition to rebellion
	•	For example, Egyptian and Tunisian people. The internet played a role in their rebellions. 
	◦	Anons were involved with setting up dial up service. Tweeting on others’ behalf. 

	•	The real-time information coming out of Egypt really motivated Anonymous to do something. 
	•	With VR rising, could shared experience lead rise to even more international political involvement. 

	•	Astra Taylor talks about the Debt collective and a group of people organizing to refuse to pay off their debts because they don’t think these debts are warranted 
	•	Have this wonderful quote “If you owe the bank a thousand dollars…”
	•	Similar to Anonymous because it’s about the masses “owning” the man. 
	1	The idea that 10,000 angry people can send a message online against billion dollar corporations. 
	2	The idea that the masses have ultimate control, they just need to wake up and organize. 

	•	Nancy Baym talks about the public’s insane interest into the daily life of celebrities, and how celebrities interact with it. 
	•	Interestingly, Anonymous has public faces (Twitter, Facebook, etc), but none of them are verifiable.
	1	 Completely flies in the face of traditional social media interaction where verified identity is so important. 

	•	Sullivan and Popova really talk about monetization and the ethics behind monetizing their online activities. 
	•	Sullivan with his blogging (and being against native advertising) and Popova defending her Amazon referrals. The discussion really was about money. 
	•	One thing that’s remarkably different is that it appears as though Anonymous in no way has attempted to make money (hacking, ads, donations, etc). 

	•	I asked about involvement with government. Local issue because data centers are in NC. 
	1	She says it was all handled on the federal level and not by her. 
	•	Google has cooperated with the NSA, though, an act that Anonymous would protest. 
	1	Anonymous knows to trust nobody; third party services are out of the question. 

	•	I did it on “American’s privacy strategies post Snowden”.
	•	 It was clear that many habits are still there. 
	1	Only a very small fraction uses secure systems 2% PGP, 2% Tor, etc. This does mean that, while breaking Tor can be difficult, detecting it can be slightly easier, and with only a small fraction of a population using it, anonymity is decreased. 

	•	Going back to HBGary, Anonymous targeted HBGary because it was publishing false information about Anonymous’ “leadership”
	◦	Anonymous (specifically lulzsec, a much more technical group related to Anonymous) leaked all of HBGary’s emails, revealing the proposal with Palantir
	◦	Actually wanted to damage Wikileaks by tarnishing and threatening Glenn Greenwald. Which was completely absurd. 
	•	Glenn obviously key figure in Snowden leaks. 
	•	Also relates to Journalism post-snowden, with organizations going to very questionable lengths to silence leaks. 

	•	During the discussions, they talk about the idea of and importance of a “privacy bill of rights”, which would ensure certain privacies to individuals in the country. 
	•	Anonymous would certainly support such a bill, as a lot of the protections they take (Tor) are because they don’t have explicit rights with regard to online privacy. 

	•	Tor is an essential tool for both the technical and the non-technical players in Anonymous. 
	•	Actually what grants them as-close-as-possible Anonymity. 
	•	Anonymous as they exist today wouldn’t really be possible without Tor (that is, a popularized Onion routing protocol)

	•	So PGP, which stands for Pretty Good Privacy, is a mechanism by which I can establish a secure communication with another individual (using encryption). 
	•	Relies on verifying identity of third-parties, through “web of trust”
	•	Essentially, I need to trust someone who trusts you in order to talk to you. 
	•	Thus, would be impractical if people had to make many many hops to the person they want to talk to. 
	•	PGP is one of the many tools necessary for Anons to talk securely and untampered. 

	•	Because Anonymous as an organization is really a marketplace, by which individual members make their own decision about what cause they want to support/what they want to do in the name of Anonymous, 
	1	they really are subject to the paradoxical nature of success, as the popular ops can blow up. 

	•	Appelbaum is very involved with the development of Tor. 
	•	Their thesis really was that the internet is liberated by cryptography. 
	1	In many ways the online actions of Anonymous would not be possible today without modern Crypto. 

	•	Memes are sort of used by Anonymous as an informal way of identity verification and drawing boundaries between who is an Anon and who isn’t. 
	•	Sort of means memes sort of are the language of Anons. 
	•	They also both share their birth-place: 4chan. 
	◦	4chan was purportedly responsible for creating or popularizing many popular memes, such as Rick rolling, Chocolate Rain, and lolcatz. 
	•	Anonymous isn’t an entity or website, it also is an idea, and by Dawkin’s description, it would be considered a meme. 

	•	Anonymous argues that the unfiltered Internet that it’s trying to protect is important for free speech. This is why they went after Scientology, because it threatened that freedom. 

	•	The fact that Anonymous actually has not targeted anything regarding online dating is interesting. 
	•	They seem to have practically no involvement with online dating, in their attacks or otherwise. 

	•	Zuckerman really wanted to spur inter-cultural political involvement with globalvoices.org
	•	Because Anonymous is really an international collective, that means that they are at least trying to get involved politically with other cultures. 



	•	https://anoninsiders.net/donate/
	•	https://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_m00t_poole_the_case_for_anonymity_online?language=en
	•	We are Legion (documentary): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSqurTMe7Rw
	1	Much of my reference to the nature/goals of Anonymous are based on statements made by Gabriella Coleman in this doc
	2	Much of the timeline of Anons is based on the content of this doc
	•	http://www.4chan.org/faq#what4chan
	•	http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/6/nsa-chief-google.html
	•	http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/03/16/americans-privacy-strategies-post-snowden/
	•	https://anoninsiders.net/how-to-join-anonymous-1527/
	•	Web of trust: short discussion with my security professor: Mike Reiter
	•	Cypherpunks - By Julian Assange
	•	All posts on the course webpage: http://jomc449fall15.web.unc.edu/