Facebook threat allegedly from rogue Anonymous members
Members of Anonymous took to Twitter and Pastebin on Wednesday to distance themselves from a threatened cyber attack against Facebook that is reportedly supposed to take place on Guy Fawkes Night in November.
The Anonymous members who spoke out against the proposed attack said the hackers involved in the planned Operation Facebook action aren't representative of the whole group.
And therein lies a problem for Anonymous; there is no defined organization within the hacktivist group.
Not all members take part in every action, no one person runs the group or can tell others what to do and no one person speaks on behalf of the group either.
In the past, this lack of hierarchy has seemed to serve the group well as alleged members have been arrested and other members have preached that an idea can't be arrested and the group will persist.
Now, it seems, some members aren't happy with the ideas of others.
In July, an allegedly rogue band of members started a YouTube page and Twitter account stating that Anonymous would launch a cyber attack on Nov. 5, the day in 1605 when Guy Fawkes famously tried to blow up London's House of Lords and kill England's King James I but was instead arrested.
On Wednesday, Anonymous members offered differing accounts of just what Operation Facebook is. Some called it a hoax, while others said the plan was being conducted by an offshoot of Anonymous and was something the hacktivist group didn't condone.
In a few tweets from the @Anonops Twitter account, one of the many mouthpieces of Anonymous on the micro-blogging service, the story changes from Operation Facebook not being an authentic Anonymous action to it being something a limited number of Anonymous members are a part of:
One person who identified him- or herself as a member of Anonymous took the blame and said the whole deal was a misunderstanding in a statement published on the website Pastebin.
The Pastebin statement said that Operation Facebook wasn't meant to be a cyber attack on Facebook, but rather an attempt to build a new social network to rival Facebook, one that doesn't share or sell its users' information.
The project didn't gain much traction and became one of the founding pieces of AnonPlus, a social network Anonymous is working on building after its members were kicked out of Google+.
The statement reads:
Op facebook began several months ago, and had between 10 and 20 members. At its conception it had one goal:
To bring attention to the fact that facebook stored the data of user accounts.
This later developed into a second goal:
To develop an ethical, anonymous facebook alternative.
Development began on the site (albeit slowly), and all was well for a few days. Then came news of anonplus, an anonymous social network, similar to the one that was being developed at #opfacebook. The site in development by #opfacebook was slowing to a halt and so i decided to offer the source to the team at anonplus.
The person who posted the statement, who didn't offer up his or her name (fitting for a member of a group called Anonymous, right?), said that being able to hand off Operation Facebook to those working on AnonPlus was a relief because he or she was getting bored with the undertaking.
I expected them to accept my offer of free source code and a mostly functioning site that would have reduced the embarresment[sic] they subjected themselves to with the epic fail of anouncing[sic] a site before they started coding.
Operation Facebook, the statement said, should have come to an end at that point. But that didn't happen because an online chat room "channel" where Anonymous members discussed Operation Facebook wasn't shut down by anyone.
Nobody ever removed the channel, and so at some point rumours began as to what #opfacebook was.
The plan before it was scrapped had been a mass deletion of facebook accounts, however it was decided that a mass deletion of facebook accounts would occur on november the 5th, however this was decided to be a bad idea and so it was removed from the pad. Unfortunately, this left only the draft of a message to facebook, warning that they would "never forget" the 5th of november. At some point, somebody saw the near-empty channel and joined it. Rumours were spread ranging from 0-day exploits in facebook to physical attacks on the server. Soon #opfacebook gained around 40 people who expected an attack on facebook.
With people seeing the Operation Facebook plans, even though the original planners had given up on the ideas, the cyber attack concept was resurrected by mistake, the statement said. And when the media caught on to this, expectations for Operation Facebook rose even further, with some 200 people wanting to take part, the statement said.
Anyway, the whole thing is a massive cluster... and i feel responsible, so can someone sort that ... out?
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screen shot of a statement posted to Facebook from a self-identified member of Anonymous who says Operation Facebook was abandoned by Anonymous but resurrected by others by mistake. Credit: Pastebin