Tyranny of the online majority was a lecture from “professional ethical hacker” Jody Melbourne of hacklabs who “specializes in penetration testing”. Set as a look at the mobilising of grassroots activism online it was a 1-0-1 lesson on Anonymous.
This online community, recently featured on Insight, consists of just about anyone who has an agenda on just about anything. They claim to have led the protests of the Arab Spring and are the driving force behind Occupy Wall Street.
When you look at their track record you struggle to find their common ground, however Jody argues it is the international human right of freedom of speech that binds them. This galvanizing statement sees them gather followers from every age, race and religion.
Jody loves this fact and is proud that his networks of friends come from all around the world. He does not know their name let alone race or religion and this is what he believes sets his generation apart from others. His community has no borders and essentially does not care who you are, but more so what you have to say.
Pure anonymity is what they all have in common and anyone can join, with fairly much any agenda without any clear motive. This was obvious in the examples Jody showed of Anonymous propaganda where communities were called to hack corporations without any justification.
The risk here is that minority interest groups start hijacking the cause. This was seen with the ddos attack on the Israeli parliament, the #op.chorizo (whatever that was) and now with Occupy Wall Street.
Scarily young hacktivists have jumped on board and are participating without any real understanding of why. This to me has always been the disempowering force of Anonymous. While their members portray themselves as modern day online revolutionaries, in essence they are sheep.
The fact they are able to amass users blindly like this sees their constantly changing agenda lose relevance. Especially when an activist you can jump off and jump on whenever it suits. Without a cohesive message this powerful group of hacktivists are in danger. While they stand for freedom of speech all I can really see is that they stand for anonymity.
Via the website 4chan Anonymous are able to be truly anonymous. Here you have no user names, no status and you can say whatever you want as your message is deleted within minutes. Despite how liberating that is Jody did briefly touch on its darker side, it is rife with child pornography as users are completely protected.
And here lies their trap; it is a community where no one can be kicked out.
I’ve heard a lot about Anonymous in the past year and I applaud their ability to create change in an extremely powerful way. However I am wondering how long before they implode and what will come next.