Defying expectations, the loose-knit online group Anonymous has landed a blow against the Islamic State’s online presence.
After ‘declaring war’ on ISIS this weekend, the amorphous hacking collective reports that over 5,500 ISIS-affiliated accounts on Twitter have been exposed and taken down.
Since the weekend, Anonymous have been tracking down the Twitter accounts of ISIS supporters, compiling them in online documents, and reporting them to Twitter for suspension. While it is hard to verify the 5,500 figure, online lists seen by Breitbart Tech suggests that the number of ISIS accounts suspended as a result of Anonymous’ efforts number in the thousands.
Many, including myself, were sceptical of Anonymous’ ability to achieve any measurable results against the Islamic State. It is time for a mea culpa. While the militants behind the ISIS Twitter accounts are not harmed, there is no question that Anonymous’ operation has impacted the Islamic State’s ability to disseminate propaganda and communicate with its supporters on the internet.
In doing so, it has filled a gap left glaringly absent by Twitter, a company that leaps into action to suspend users whenever a feminist or a Black Lives Matter activist feels offended, but has made little effort to track down the vast numbers of ISIS operatives using the platform.
As I elaborated in my last piece, Anonymous has been ridiculed in many quarters of the internet. Their symbols have been co-opted by wacky progressives, a low point being the “Million Mask Marches,” which often look like little more than Occupy Wall Street tribute acts. Their once-feared reputation has also crumbled over the years, as amateurs and teenagers sought to claim the “Anonymous” mantle with ill-conceived ‘ops.’
(Ops are Anonymous’ signature phrase for collective missions. They call their war against ISIS ‘#OpParis’.)
Nevertheless, Anonymous’ latest Op appears to be bearing fruit. Galvanised by the groups’s online call to arms on Saturday, which has now been viewed over 5.5million times, tens of thousands of anonymous web users have been contributing to OpParis, tracking down ISIS accounts and reporting them to Twitter.
With estimates of the number of suspended ISIS accounts ranging up to the thousands, Anonymous can now claim to have done considerably more to damage ISIS than Facebook users adding tricolour flags to their profiles. Indeed, Anonymous is even doing more than some western countries, many of which still refuse to participate in the fight against ISIS. Suspending Twitter accounts may not be much, but it’s something.
Anonymous have always seemed like the bin-men of the internet. They aren’t very fashionable, and few like to be seen next to them. But they remain the best at what they do: tracking down bad guys. Once it was cat abusers. Now it’s terrorists.