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Anonymous graphic thanks to Creative Commons, Flickr user Honest Reporting

Anonymous graphic thanks to Creative Commons, Flickr user Honest Reporting

Across the street from the café I frequent, a new bar is opening up: Anonymous, they call it – a place where you can be whoever you want to be, and then let the temporary identity you assumed be swept away with the broken glass of an unnamed drink you dropped. Entering a new place unnoticed carries with it many benefits, not the least of which is causing trouble and walking away from it unscathed. More often than not though, the plan isn’t to literally start a war.

But a war is exactly what the latest Anonymous actions seem to be pointing to. The group of hackers that became famous by combining digital activism with a stealthy push for revenge (conveniently named “Anonymous”) has chosen its newest target: North Korea.

And while slactivism may indeed not translate into concrete real world action, the hacktivism of Anonymous might render a different conclusion. Their compromising of several thousand North Korean online accounts, as well as the breeching of a central news agency and other state-run Twitter and Flickr pages, comes with a demand: North Korea must retract its threat of nuclear attack, and increase freedoms (namely internet access) to its citizens.

Meanwhile, the “beloved” Kim Jongun remains defaced with a pig snout and Mickey Mouse tattoo on government run websites – the picture labeled “Nuke Nuke Mickey Lover” and replacing the usual shots of obedient generals and military rallies.

Kim Jognun Photoshop Poster provided by Creative Commons, Flickr user Andreas Louws

Kim Jognun Photoshop Poster provided by Creative Commons, Flickr user Andreas Louws

The cyber attack leaves a secretive and brittle country exposed, vulnerable to future abuse and confused as to how to retaliate. Anonymous claims to be fighting on behalf of freedom rather than the North Korean suspected South Korea or US. However, the repetition of “we the people” in the Anonymous messages (“we the people won’t fight your wars anymore,” “we the people are united as one, divided by zero, and can never be defeated”) leaves more evidence to be desired.

If Kim Jongun should decide the attacks are enemy-country-originated, fear could be instilled in more than one country’s citizens. Wars have begun by accident or miscalculation before – a kind of unprecedented social impact no internet media expert could have predicted.

Even with Anonymous delving into unchartered territory of North Korean reactions, there might be hope on the horizon. The hacking collective maintains that they should not be feared: “We are not terrorist, we are the good guys from the internet.” They continue: “Our goals are freedom and peace and democracy.”

Theoretically, reading these claims should calm our imaginative minds (especially since everything on the internet should obviously be trusted), but Anonymous as a group has nothing to worry about: they won’t be the target of retaliation – walk away from everything unscathed, remember?

They did, however, end their declaration with the now-familiar signature: “We do not forgive, we do not forget, expect us!” Though expecting the unexpected seems to be the implication, perhaps it is exactly this anonymity of the internet that they should be thanking. In today’s digital age, anything may indeed be possible online.

For more information on Anonymous and their most recent cyber attack, please follow the links below:

http://www.news.com.au/technology/anonymous-hackers-attack-north-korea-news-website-flickr-account-and-twitter-feed/story-e6frfro0-1226612875474

http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/04/anonymous-hackers-take-control-of-north-korean-propaganda-sites/

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2 thoughts on “How The Internet Started A War

  1. While I am a little skeptical about the motivations of Anonymous, I cannot say that what they are doing necessarily a bad thing. I know you say that they could potentially “start” a war, but war had been declared by North Korea a long time ago. They would have been belligerent whether or not Anonymous did anything. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is insignificant. The things that Anonymous hacked were North Korea’s face to the outside world. The people inside North Korea cannot see these accounts at all. They don’t have conventional Internet access, so what do a Flickr and Twitter account matter? This won’t inspire them to rebel or anything. That’s why Anonymous makes its demands directly to Kim Jong Un and the government. Even if North Korea did cite these attacks as a cause for war, it would just be a convenient excuse. They would probably find something else if this did not exist.
    Also, how different are Anonymous’s actions from the rest of the world’s governments? It’s a group of people from around the world banding together to combat something that they find to be evil. The fact that they upgraded from ‘slacktivism’ to ‘hacktivism’ should be a good thing. Don’t we always say that ‘slacktivism’ has no real impact, well the fact that the Internet can actually TRY to make a difference. While I do not fully agree with their methodology, I feel the concept of ‘hacktivism’ has some merit. Their solution is attempting to strangle North Korea into submission. Isn’t what they are doing essentially what the UN is doing with its sanctions? I’m pretty sure U.N. sanctions and embargoes matter a lot more to the North Korean government than a Twitter account.
    I do agree with you that their origins and message are pretty sketchy, but I don’t feel that it’s an issue of concern. This would only really be a problem if it was a sort of ‘cultish’ group. However, I don’t think Anonymous is the same group of people every time. I think it’s just people who find a certain issue important and they band together under the same moniker of ‘Anonymous’. I mean, that’s the nature of the Internet, people have short attention spans. If it’s different people every time, then it’s a lot harder for them to become ‘terrorists’. Also with no clear hierarchy, (The same thing Gladwell criticizes the Internet for), it’s a lot harder for Anonymous to become a force for evil. The weak bonds that keep the group together could just as easily break in the time of hardship.
    Finally, your point that the members of Anonymous would not be the ones who face retaliation is kind of misleading. Every member might not be affected, but I’m sure some will. Do we know how many South Koreans are helping Anonymous? Or Japanese people? I’m pretty sure that there are quite a few of them helping the group along, since they are directly invested in the matter. I don’t think Anonymous does what it does because there’s no fear of retaliation. I think it’s more a ‘power to the powerless’ type deal.
    So, in conclusion, I don’t feel that Anonymous is as much of a negative as you paint it to be. They are just people trying to make a difference. I really don’t see them to be very different from what the world governments are doing. If war does break out, we can be fairly certain it won’t be because of a Mickey Mouse caricature of Kim Jong Un.

  2. While I am a little skeptical about the motivations of Anonymous, I cannot say that what they are doing necessarily a bad thing. I know you say that they could potentially “start” a war, but war had been declared by North Korea a long time ago. They would have been belligerent whether or not Anonymous did anything. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is insignificant. The things that Anonymous hacked were North Korea’s face to the outside world. The people inside North Korea cannot see these accounts at all. They don’t have conventional Internet access, so what do a Flickr and Twitter account matter? This won’t inspire them to rebel or anything. That’s why Anonymous makes its demands directly to Kim Jong Un and the government. Even if North Korea did cite these attacks as a cause for war, it would just be a convenient excuse. They would probably find something else if this did not exist.

    Also, how different are Anonymous’s actions from the rest of the world’s governments? It’s a group of people from around the world banding together to combat something that they find to be evil. The fact that they upgraded from ‘slacktivism’ to ‘hacktivism’ should be a good thing. Don’t we always say that ‘slacktivism’ has no real impact, well the fact that the Internet can actually TRY to make a difference. While I do not fully agree with their methodology, I feel the concept of ‘hacktivism’ has some merit. Their solution is attempting to strangle North Korea into submission. Isn’t what they are doing essentially what the UN is doing with its sanctions? I’m pretty sure U.N. sanctions and embargoes matter a lot more to the North Korean government than a Twitter account.

    I do agree with you that their origins and message are pretty sketchy, but I don’t feel that it’s an issue of concern. This would only really be a problem if it was a sort of ‘cultish’ group. However, I don’t think Anonymous is the same group of people every time. I think it’s just people who find a certain issue important and they band together under the same moniker of ‘Anonymous’. I mean, that’s the nature of the Internet, people have short attention spans. If it’s different people every time, then it’s a lot harder for them to become ‘terrorists’. Also with no clear hierarchy, (The same thing Gladwell criticizes the Internet for), it’s a lot harder for Anonymous to become a force for evil. The weak bonds that keep the group together could just as easily break in the time of hardship.

    Finally, your point that the members of Anonymous would not be the ones who face retaliation is kind of misleading. Every member might not be affected, but I’m sure some will. Do we know how many South Koreans are helping Anonymous? Or Japanese people? I’m pretty sure that there are quite a few of them helping the group along, since they are directly invested in the matter. I don’t think Anonymous does what it does because there’s no fear of retaliation. I think it’s more a ‘power to the powerless’ type deal.

    So, in conclusion, I don’t feel that Anonymous is as much of a negative as you paint it to be. They are just people trying to make a difference. I really don’t see them to be very different from what the world governments are doing. If war does break out, we can be fairly certain it won’t be because of a Mickey Mouse caricature of Kim Jong Un.

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