Right on time "Anonymous" prove why they can be very dangerous. And not for the reasons they think.
A few days ago a voice that claimed to be speaking for the hacktivist collective launched "Operation Ferguson," which not only pushed for a new federal law named after Mike Brown that would crack down on police abuses, but also promised to reveal the name of the unidentified Ferguson, Missouri cop who shot and killed him.
In an interview with Mother Jones published yesterday, one member of Anonymous was quoted as saying, "We are not exactly known for being ‘responsible,’ nor for worrying overly much about the safety of cops." They're not "responsible" and yet the have the ability to hack into various computer systems, avail themselves of shitloads of information, and splash the stuff they believe to be pertinent all over the internet. Sounds like the kind of thing that absolutely won't ever blow up in anyone's face.
Speaking of which, this morning Anonymous made good on their promise to out Mike Brown's shooter. They named a name and released a Facebook photo via Twitter, which would've really been something had they not named the wrong fucking guy. St. Louis County PD quickly responded to the tweet, saying that not only was the person Anonymous IDd not the shooter, he isn't even an employee of either the Ferguson or SLC police department.
What he is, apparently, is a 32-year-old dispatcher for the St. Ann, Missouri Police Department. A dispatcher. For a completely separate police department. We can be reasonably certain of this because in addition to the official statement, the poor bastard's stepmother filled USA Today in on her stepson's background -- he was reportedly a manager at a dollar store before his dispatching gig -- and said she's now afraid for his life and hers. Maybe she should be given that Anonymous's tweet was shared more than 3,000 times before Twitter deactivated the account.
Just after noon on the East Coast today, Anonymous's backup Twitter account that's reporting on Ferguson-related items posted the following:
By the way, considering that the junior investigators at Anonymous got their big scoop wrong and just smeared a man who appears to be completely innocent, there will of course be hell to pay, right? There will be some accountability for the damage they've caused to this guy, yes?
Uh-huh. Who you gonna hold accountable? That's the issue with Anonymous: while the group can do quite a bit of good, it also doesn't answer to anyone and we can never even be sure whether the conspiratorially minded hackers who are its various moving parts are operating in tandem or just amount to a snake eating its own tail.