By Trinh Truong

In an age where the online world is a completely parallel universe, it is inevitable that things that are very much so real become intertwined. Protest, rebellion and revolution are permeating the real world and the online one as well. It was sooner rather than later that these political ideas and changes began to shift with the technological times and integrate with other areas of modern life. While security and defense is mainly focused on physical threats and violence, one area was left defenseless and vulnerable to others looking for an opportunity – cyber space. This offered a perfect chance for a subculture of “hacktivists,” particularly a group called Anonymous, to seize the opportunity and stir up some internet havoc supposedly in the name of freedom.

The vague and intriguing moniker “Anonymous” is no longer a mere adjective. It is a name used by members of a loose-knit, leaderless collective mainly comprised of proclaimed “hacktivists.” Hacktivism is recognized as the use of digital tools in pursuit of political ends, according to an article by PCWorld. Think of it as protesting, but with a 21st century spin. Also, Anonymous is simply the idea of internet freedom and expression. It is in such a way that anyone who agrees is part of Anonymous. Guy Fawkes masks are often donned by members of Anonymous, to symbolize a vigilante-like spirit that goaded Fawkes in a failed attempt to bomb the British Parliament in 1605. The masks are also a reference to the movie V for Vendetta, a film about Fawkes’s attempt. The masks reaffirm the notion of remaining unknown and the understanding that wearing the mask enables you to not only display an idea, but to become the embodiment of that idea.

Another distinct trademark of Anonymous is their mantra:

“We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”

Members of Anonymous that are more fond of hacking often participate in various and controversial tactics of disobedience such as attacking websites by flooding them with internet traffic, hacking into databases to obtain classified and sensitive information, and publicly posting personal information of people believed to have carried out deeds that are construed as a threat to freedoms. There is much debate pertinent to the questionable actions and convictions of Anonymous. As to whether they are freedom fighters, or blatant criminals; that is merely a personal variable.

Despite conducting seemingly malicious activities, Anonymous has a myriad of motives that are fueling the flames. Many motives range from a broad spectrum such as combating government corruption, online and offline censorship, police brutality and social injustice. Anonymous is also credited with bringing attention to cyber security, and the lack thereof. Ultimately, the difference between a critic and supporter of Anonymous is dependent on what you view as pushing the boundaries and crossing the line.

Hey, I’m Trinh. You could say I’m the young padawan of Occupy Utica. I have an immensely strong attachment to the French Enlightenment and philosophy. I love food… For thought. You can find me vehemently hammering out lengthy rants online or you’ll hear me raving loudly outside of the pixels that comprise the internet. Either way, I’m quite verbose. And idealistic. I don’t have much of a filter and my humor is the polar opposite of apropos. Oh, and I’m one of those “corrupted youth.” Enchanté.