What do you think of when you hear the word Anonymous? Do you see an Internet vigilante group fighting against the largest governments and corporations of the world or just a couple of "script kiddies" taking down Web sites for the "lulz?" Either way, you probably have strong opinions on the matter. That may be why Anonymous launched #OpPedoChat.
For those unfamiliar, #OpPedoChat is Anonymous' latest campaign against the child pornography rings that litter the Internet. There was a similar campaign last year called #OpDarknet that aimed to take down child pornography rings that were only accessible via TOR links. The main difference between the two is that #OpPedoChat is much larger in scope with Anonymous actively identifying the people involved in the trading and selling of child pornography.
Should Anonymous go after Internet pedophiles? Or should the matter be left to the authorities? Let us know in the comments.
#OpPedoChat was announced over the July 4 weekend and its aims are clear - clean up the Internet. The press release detailing the operation was unique to Anonymous in that it called upon everybody to help them in their quest. They usually just ask fellow anons for assistance in most operations.
Lately, there has been a surge of websites dedicated to pedophiles for chat, picture sharing, etc. These sickos openly advocate concepts like “man-boy love” with statements such as “If the boy [in this case only 8 years old] is asking for it, we shouldn’t deny him”. This is not limited to boys, boards for little girls exist as well and operate with impunity. Child pornography is frequently traded and even innocent pictures of random children (at the beach, on a playground, etc) are publicly fantasized about. This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
WE Anonymous aim to diminish if not eradicate this plague from the Internet. For the good of our followers, for the good of mankind, and for our own enjoyment we shall expel from the Internet and systematically destroy any such boards that continue to operate.
YOU are Anonymous as well. YOU can get off your ass and help. Spread the word to fellow Anons, to the press, and encourage them to do the same. Those that can attack are asked to fire their lazors; those that cannot are encouraged to learn. These pedos are very butthurt about being hit too, so there is some LULZ factor in it. SAIL SAFE!
So far, Anonymous has been able to take down various Web sites that were listed in the press release as being involved in the trade of underage pornographic materials. They not only took down the sites, but they were also able to identify numerous people involved in the trade of said materials. The hope is that the police will take the information to make the necessary arrests.
The identification of potential pedophiles has already led to one casualty as Belgian official Hans-Peter Luyckx temporarily resigned from his position after his name appeared on the list published by Anonymous. He refutes the claim, but resigned to distance himself from his party.
Luyckx claims that his Web address was hacked which led to his name appearing on the list. If true, it could lead to some questioning of Anonymous' methods. Would they intentionally tie politicians to the list of pedophiles to shame them into quitting? It's not really their style, but some members of Anonymous have stooped to such lows in the past.
Does #OpPedoChat have any political motivations? Will we see more public officials show up on the list? Let us know in the comments.
I ran an informal poll on the general public's feelings in regards to Anonymous on my Facebook page to get a feel for how people are responding to Anonymous' actions. The answers provided in my poll were only yes and no, but some people decided to put their own answer - no opinion - that made this far more interesting. A little over half of respondents chose no opinion, while less than 10 percent went with yes or no.
One of the respondents answered no and gave this reason:
I like the specific thing they're doing (waging war on pedophiles), but that doesn't change my opinion of them as a whole. It's sort of like a hypothetical scenario in which we discover that Hitler donated tons of money to help needy families in Egypt, for some inexplicable reason. That's great, and I'm glad that person did that thing, but that doesn't mean Hitler wasn't a terrible person.
The analogy is interesting because it shows that many people still view Anonymous as a loosely-knit organization that performs illegal acts under the guise of vigilanteism. While one could argue that #OpPedoChat is a natural extension of Anonymous' current operations, many people are probably not going to start instantly liking Anonymous.
#OpPedoChat is a good idea and one that Anonymous should fully embrace. They work best as a sort of vigilante Internet Batman that targets the worst parts of the Internet and society as a whole. They command the most respect when they're aiding those fighting for independence in the Middle East or shedding light on the actions of dictators.
For every helpful operation, however, there's a hack or DDoS attack because the group doesn't agree with what that particular government or country is doing. Sure, Anonymous' attacks on governments in India, Japan and China are greeted with cheers from some within the Internet community, but most just treat it as an annoyance. Some members realize this. That's why Anonymous Japan picked up litter in protest of harsh new laws instead of launching DDoS attacks. It might just be a cultural difference, but it speaks volumes to how people respect a group more when they're not interfering in the daily operation of everyday life.
That's the beauty of Anonymous though - people can find some form of identity within the group without having to be involved in everything that flies under the Anonymous banner. I've seen more people joining in for #OpPedoChat than any other previous operation. If anything, those in Anonymous are doing this to improve the image of the group for themselves. If it changes your mind about them, that's only a bonus.
Do you like Anonymous more after they launched #OpPedoChat? Or is this all just a ruse to improve their public image? Let us know in the comments.