In 2015, the hackers collective Anonymous probably garnered maximum headlines and initiated an array of top trending hashtags, so it can be said that the group had a pretty enjoyable yet hectic year.
Careful analysis suggests that Anonymous’ strategy was shifted from satisfying personal grudges to targeting universal issues of public interest.
Anonymous used the Internet and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook quite convincingly to compel people around the world to rally against a particular issue.
Such as, when Charlie Hebdo magazine was attacked and the Paris attack in November, Anonymous staged social media war to disrupt and outdo the ISIS via “Ops.”
Let’s find out more about the most prominent campaigns of Anonymous:
The War Against ISIS:
Anonymous released a video on YouTube soon after the attack on Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people were killed. The masked man warned ISIS with this statement:
“We are fighting in memory of those innocent people who fought for freedom of expression.”
And, post the Paris attack that shocked the world and deprived over 130 innocent people of their lives, Anonymous launched another assault online with hashtags like #OpISIS and #OpParis.
A “war” of sorts was officially declared by the group against ISIS and as per the group’s claim, they were able to successfully take down around 20,000 Twitter accounts that were under use of ISIS for recruitment and propaganda purposes.
However, social-media users weren’t much satisfied with these efforts because it was always possible to open new accounts or communicate with potential targets through secure apps.
One such dissatisfied social media watcher is Gabrielle Coleman, Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University in Montreal, who gave the following statement after the Paris attacks:
“You look at what is happening with this current iteration (of Anonymous’s operations) and you see that it doesn’t have much of an effect, which has nothing to do with Anonymous, per se, and more to do with the fact that ISIS has grabbed and secured global media attention in so many channels #OpISIS (which followed ‘Charlie Hebdo’) had a better track record as opposed to #OpParis because they had been at it longer and that was a smaller team of people.”
In December 2015, Anonymous continued its efforts to dethrone ISIS from social media by declaring Dec 11 as the “Troll ISIS Day,” and urged users to post mocking content saying: “Do not think you have to be a part of Anonymous, anyone can do this and does not require any special skills.”
Anonymous was also able to deface ISIS’s official website and place a viagra advert on its main page.
However, this strategy backfired as the campaign wasn’t as effective and all it could produce was some culturally insensitive posts that were down right derogatory for some communities.
Coleman acknowledged this fact as well by saying:
“You know there are a lot of people within Anonymous who were excited about and also dreading it (Troll ISIS Day). They were dreading it knowing that a lot of material would be offensive to Muslims. One of the things I’m looking out for is memes and images that set out to truly offend ISIS itself and not Muslims as a whole.”
Taking on Donald Trump with #OpTrump:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was also not spared for being so outspoken.
This came as no surprise since historically, Anonymous goes after larger-than-life organizations and popular personalities who it deems offensive to its philosophy in any way.
An example would be the group’s overwhelmingly strong dislike for the Church of Scientology, which compelled the group to conduct a spam campaign and rigging search engine results to show Evil Cult when Scientology was searched.
And who else could be as controversial and provocative than Donald Trump in 2015?
Therefore, when Trump proposed a ban on Muslims from entering the US, the war was declared again on him by Anonymous and the hashtag #OpTrump was generated to critique the candidate openly.
Soon after, Reuters reported that the website of Trump Tower New York was hacked and temporarily down.
Unceremonious Exposure of KKK Members:
The much-reviled group Ku Klux Klan also received hammering from Anonymous this year.
The group hacked KKK’s twitter account and released the names of around a thousand potential members of the KKK citing that some members of the white supremacist group fed this information to Anonymous.
Post the information dump, another leak followed but this time, it prompted a backlash since the list of names included baseless accusations against various individuals including Mayor Jim Gray and Kentucky.
The final list also contained a message from Anonymous that read:
“Operation KKK will, in part, spark a bit of constructive dialogue about race, racism, racial terror, and freedom of expression, across group lines.”
“We consider this data dump as a form of resistance against the violence and intimidation tactics leveraged against the public by various members of the Ku Klux Klan group throughout history.”
Taking on the Dolphin and Whale hunting:
Anonymous conducted several cyber attacks on Iceland and Japanese government websites in order to raise awareness against the ongoing Dolphin and Whale killings.
The hacktivist group conducted DDoS attacks on websites belong to the Iceland government and forced each and every government owned site to stay offline for at least 13 hours. The operation is still underway with #OpWhales.
Anonymous also carried out a series of cyber attacks against the Japanese government and defaced the Japanese PM’s site to register protest against whale hunt. The hacktivists also shut down the websites for two major Japanese airports for operation OpKillingBay.
Shutting Down X-Rated Animal Abuse sites:
Operation OpBeast was one of the highly praised operations Anonymous conducted in 2015. The operation’s main purpose was to raise awareness against x-rated animal abuse sites and shut them down. Anonymous was successful in deleting several such forums and websites. The operation forced some countries to put a ban on animal abuse sites.
Want to know more about Anonymous operations? Here is a list of 11 ongoing operations we suggest everyone should know about.