The Internet has brought alot of change to the world, to put it mildly. Free porn, instant communication and lots and lots of business. But it has produced very few heroes that affect our real world. That is, until now. Many of us have seen the masks, or the videos with the slightly creepy voice saying “we are anonymous, we are legion, we do not forgive, we do not forget, expect us “. What many don”t realize is that they represent the only true heroes that common people have anymore.
Anonymous is a collective of hackivists who are changing the world. They share many qualities with the internet from which they have emerged. Like the internet, they are (obviously) anonymous. Anonymity is both a strength and a weakness of the internet. The weakness is that people use the anonymity as an excuse to be mean spirited and petty. You just have to read the comments following almost any Youtube video to see what I mean. It doesn’t take more than three responses for people to degenerate into name-calling and belittling and cussing, and that’s just after a science video. However, its strength is freedom. You can surf whatever you like, find whatever suits your passions or your whimsy, and (barring NSA snooping) no one gets to know. Anonymous takes this strength even further by using the protection to actually effect change. Unfortunately, they must remain hidden, because they are treated like criminals, but the internet, with all its holes and hidden spots, provides them a platform to organize and act.
Like the internet, they are organic. Anonymous has taken the guerrila war model and applied it to the internet. They have no leader, just cells of individuals who agree on a common goal, and take steps to achieve it. This single cell structure allows them to be more like an idea than an organization. You can take down a cell, arrest a few members, but the collective will continue, and probably let you know how unhappy they are you have harmed one of their brothers or sisters. The lack of a leader, or public identity preserves the collective, and allows it to remain pure, because one persons ego or downfall will not slow the whole. It is a living entity, changing and growing.
And finally, like the internet, they thrive on the freedom of information. By far the greatest asset of the internet is that anyone with a connection can use it to learn about whatever they so choose. All the worlds books, and art and music can be found and appreciated. If people choose not to use it that way, that is their loss, but this is by far the most powerful educational tool ever created. And that is how Anonymous is doing the greatest good, by using the internet to spread information that the powers that be try to suppress, or by fighting mis-information and quashing the use of the internet to spread evil.
How, you might ask, are a bunch of hackers and dissidents, labelled as criminals or cyber terrorists by the main stream media, heroes? Already this year, Anonymous has launched 2 operations that are doing more good than anyone else. The first is #OpIsis. Anonymous launched a campaign to shut down websites, facebook and twitter accounts that Isis was using to spread its propaganda and recruit. Think about that for a minute. If you post a you-tube video with the wrong wording that offends someone, you can be banned from posting, yet Isis can use it to broadcast beheadings and recruit worldwide. Where are the big tech companies when their products are being used to promote death and violence? The silence and lack of action were deafening. Where was the government, who are always so eager to regulate everything, who prosecute people for saying things that hurt people’s feelings or arrest protestors en mass? No where to be found. They were more than happy to shell out billions of dollars to their military subsidiaries, or to spy on average citizens private emails and phone calls, and yet they cannot seem to find activities done in public by Isis, or seem to muster up the concern to have the sites blocked. It took Anonymous, a collection of concerned individuals, to take action against the spread of radicalization on the net. That makes them heroes, for acting when our “leaders” stood by and did nothing.
The second operation, #OpDeathEaters, is even more important, for several reasons. It is a concerted effort to expose and force action against child molestors, or peadosadists, as they call them. This operation is vital for many reasons, the first is basic humanity. I admit that I have had difficulty reading some of the information they have released; it is hard to stomach. But finding abusing children disgusting should be the normal reaction, if it doesn’t turn your stomach, there is something wrong with you (to say nothing of the inhumanity of the peadosadists themselves). While it is hard, it is important that this story be told, to honor the survivors. They need to be heard, believed so that they can begin to heal and re-grow, not be re-victimized because of their age, or gender, or socio-economic status.
This operation is also of paramount importance, because time after time, they have exposed government complicity in stopping prosecution, if not outrite perpetration themselves. The very people charged with enforcing the law are breaking it, for the most vile kind of criminal on earth. The most famous example is the British Parliament. You would have to be living under the proverbial rock (or have a typical Americans knowledge of world affairs) not to have heard about the child abuse ring that ran to the highest levels of British Government. Not only did they spend years abusing children (sometimes to the point of killing them), but when the police got too close, or hearings were scheduled, the quashed them time and time again. This is wrong on so many levels.
Look at the #OpDeathEaters feeds for any country, and there are lots (Canada, U.S., India, you name it) and you see the same pattern. Politicians or governments shutting down investigations. Authority figures, like church leaders and teachers, abusing children under their care. Police ignoring complaints or silencing witnesses, or even worse, slandering those few brave enough to pursue justice. This is worldwide, trafficking of children and child porn is the fastest growing black market in the world. And it will not stop because our governments are complicit in the crime; if they are not commiting it, they are protecting their rich friends and their criminal behaviors and enterprises. This is the reason Anonymous are heroes. We need them to fight back against the very governments that are supposed to be protecting us and our children.
Now, the important part. We are all Anonymous, we need to be the heroes. I wrote this essay not for people like me, who know about it, but for people like my mother, who had never even heard of anonymous until I told her about them, and she is as tech savy, and socially aware as I am. We need to spread #OpDeathEaters to all corners of social media, and on to the real world. Not everyone supports hacktivism, but everyone supports ending child abuse. If you read this and are even a little bit moved, spread the message. Find an anonymous feed on twitter, tweet and retweet the hashtag, and not to fellow activists, but to people who would not normally get the message. It might make people uncomfortable, but that’s good, it should, and maybe that discomfort will spur them to become part of the solution. We need to make this so loud that no one can ignore it or cover it up anymore. Anonymous are heroes, not because they wear masks and have cool videos, but because they care enough to stand against what they know is wrong. We are all anonymous. We must all stand against child abuse.