Anonymity? Just ask Anonymous …

By MARISA HIVNER

It’s amazing what can be done on the Internet, in particular with anonymity. Just ask Anonymous.

In 2003 on the Internet forum 4chan.org, Anonymous was born. Anonymous is an Internet meme, generated by a large and unknown number of followers that participate anonymously, and actively take stances on major issues seen around the world, with the main focus and goal to promote freedom on the Internet and freedom of speech. As of 2008, the “hacktivist” (I’ll leave that definition to Wikipedia) group has taken to a more public domain, the streets, participating in dozens of protests and vigilante efforts. Here are some notable ones:

Chris Forcand arrest:
In December 2007, the Canadian-based Toronto Star newspaper published a story on the arrest of the alleged internet predator Chris Forcand. Forcand, 53, was charged with two counts of luring a child under the age of 14 with the intent of sexual assault, and other serious charges. The report stated that Forcand was already being tracked by a group of Internet vigilantes, later identified as the Anonymous group. This was the first time an alleged Internet predator had been caught and arrested due to the efforts of an Internet vigilante organization.

YouTube Porn Day:
In response to YouTube.com’s decision to remove music videos from the site, members of Anonymous organized a “raid” on the popular video site to retaliate. On May 20, 2009, members of Anonymous uploaded a number of pornographic videos to YouTube, and disguised many of them as children’s videos by applying tags like “Jonas Brothers.” All the videos have since been removed.

2011 Egypt protests:
Anonymous knocked offline the websites of Egypt’s Ministry of Information and President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party in support of protesters calling for Mubarak’s oust.

Anonymous has also set up sites, in conjunction with other sites like thePirateBay.org, to help support the freedom of information exchange on the internet in other countries, such as Iran. Though the group has not always been upstanding in its causes, it really has taken the face of the cyber-activist movement. There is no way of knowing how many members the group actually consists of now, but one thing is certain: membership is on the rise.

(Make sure you check out Anonymous’s Wikipedia page to read more about their protest participation!)

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