Friday, August 15, 2014
Oh, look, the hackorrists at Anonymous fucked up. Again.
Let me remind you that I'm not a fan of the police by any means. I support sites like Cop Block. I protested the FOP convention in my city of residence last summer. I also live in a city that has had an issue with race relations. Living in the hood for a few years, I understand the difficulty in trying to maintain peace between the races (both sides have their beliefs about the races and can be racist). It is a volatile situation.
However, in a sensitive incident like the Ferguson MO shooting, it is helpful to have the right info, given that rioting and civil unrest has occurred there.
In the midst of this, some members of Anonymous (because they aren't a collective unit but a bunch of dumbasses using the same group name) proudly proclaimed a man by the name of Bryan Willman was the officer who killed the black teenager in Ferguson:
A Twitter account associated with the hacktivist collective Anonymous said on Thursday that they've named the officer who killed Brown, 18, over the weekend, and have posted photographs purported to be of the man.
Law enforcement has thus far been unwilling to publicize the name of the officer involved in the shooting death despite calls from the public and press alike. Hackers and activists affiliated with the internationally-dispersed Anonymous collective have vowed to disclose the cop’s identity if officials declined to do so on their own, however, and on Thursday said that Willman is the officer responsible.
“St. Louis County PD claims Bryan Willman doesn't work for them or #Ferguson PD. We'll see about that,” TheAnonMessage Twitter account tweeted early Thursday.
Moments later at 11:00 am CST, the same account posted screenshots alleged to have come from Willman’s personal Facebook account earlier this week, and outted him as the shooter.
“But the job title says it all. Guessing everyone is forgetting about that,” responded a follower.
“You have a good point. All changed!!” replied Willman.
Earlier Thursday, the official Twitter account for the St. Louis County Police Department declined that Willman was an employee of either their office or the Ferguson PD...
Hacktivists involved in the Anonymous campaign known as #OpFerguson told RT’s Andrew Blake on Thursday that they would continue to steadily release information about the officer they believe to have killed Brown, and promised to post his address and other personal information later in the day if law enforcement failed to name the officer on their own.
When asked if the collective is confident they’ve identified the shooter, one Anon answered: “They shouldn't leave anyone to guess. Period.”
“The US government misfires and accidentally kills citizens all the time, especially overseas, and no one bats an eye. But if a wrong name is released because THEY refuse to release one? That's cool, because we don't have the data they do,” one Anon involved in #OpFerguson told Blake.
Of course, it has been later revealed that the officer at the center of this controversy is named Darren Wilson, and that the shooting victim was actually the prime suspect on a strong-arm robbery, and that was the impetus for the confrontation that led to Mike Brown's death. Feelings on this incident aside, my focus is on the fact that Anonymous members claimed the wrong man was responsible for Mike Brown's death. Even though I'm no fan of cops, the act of publishing this man's name and personal info while proclaiming the man to be a racist killer has potentially disastrous consequences.
While the Washington Post seems reluctant to criticize Anonymous even after their major gaffe, the New York Times was far more critical of the group:
Members of Anonymous — the shadowy, snide international collective of hackers and online activists — have played a key role in the growing confrontation outside St. Louis over Mr. Brown’s death, goading and threatening the authorities, and calling the effort Operation Ferguson.
Operations in the collective’s decade-long history have included taking down the World Cup website to protest poverty, helping identify assailants in a rape case in Ohio, cheering on the Occupy Wall Street movement and carrying out coordinated cyberassaults on repressive foreign governments. But this one ran into trouble faster than most.
The St. Louis police said on Twitter that the name given out was wrong, and that the man was not even a police officer. Within Anonymous there was an unusual amount of dissent. In interviews, in private chat channels and on Twitter, members accused those who had initially posted details of producing faulty information and putting one another in harm’s way by openly chatting about their methods online.
On Thursday, Twitter suspended @TheAnonMessage, the account that had posted the dubious information about the officer, although Twitter officials declined to say why. Those behind the account said in an email that they would post information from a backup account, @TheAnonMessage2, while other Twitter accounts affiliated with Anonymous tried to distance themselves from the post.
“But for the record, one last time. Operation Ferguson has NOT, repeat NOT released the name of Mike Brown’s killer, nor have we claimed to,” the individual behind the Operation Ferguson account said on Twitter.
Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist who studies Anonymous and teaches at McGill University in Montreal, said she was taken aback that members of Anonymous would be so quick to release unverified information, and would speak so openly about their methods in online chat channels.
“My jaw was dropping,” Ms. Coleman said, reading members’ communications. “I was surprised because what I was seeing was suggestive but not definitive. Anonymous tends to care about its image quite a bit, and if they were wrong, it would be really bad.”
In private chat channels early Thursday, she said, members argued about the release of a photo of a man who resembled one of the officers at the scene of Mr. Brown’s shooting...
Members assert that the organization is not a group but a loose collective working to advance similar ideals — but sometimes contradictory ones. While Anonymous espouses privacy, its members also use the release of others’ personal information as a tactic in cases where they believe the authorities are not acting in the public interest, or the news media has not released pertinent information. Members are quick to condemn any individual who claims to speak for the entire collective, and dissent and infighting are common.
Members also sought to explain the internal bickering and uncoordinated communications.
“For those new to Anonymous, it’s a global collective of millions of autonomous individuals and groups,” an Operation Ferguson post on Twitter said. “Each is responsible for themselves only.”...
Some members were desperate in their pleas this week that the man’s photo not be released until more definitive information had been gathered. Ultimately, some members held a vote and decided to release the photo.
But within hours, many had backtracked. Some openly said the “dox” — a hacking term for the release of an individual’s personal information — had been wrong. “The original dox were faulty, it happens, an excess of zeal,” one Anonymous member said in a direct message on Twitter.
The infighting seemed to have taken its toll. Those behind the @TheAnonMessage2 account, who were behind the initial disclosures, had grown considerably more circumspect.
I do find it ironic that Anonymous, a group that loves anonymity, uses public disclosure of info that should be private as an intimidation tactic. It is just like a certain public registry.
It makes me wonder how often Anonymous messes things up, like that time they accused Amy Lee of Evanescence of being "pro-pedophile".
Anonymous is full of people who are smart with computers but dumb with much of everything else in life. The term for such people is "idiot savant."
I prefer to just say they fucked up.