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The language of Anonymous reflects the wide ranging diversity of those who have chosen to participate at one time or another as Anonymous. Defining who are Anonymous is nearly impossible; the very nature of Anonymous allows for anyone to participate , even if for only one time. To add to the confusion, many Anonymous consider the very concept of Anonymous to simply be one long running joke born out of the depths of one of the Internet’s most infamous sites: 4chan. The existence of the 4chan helped to create Anonymous and allowed for it to grow and evolve. The growth of Anonymous resembles in many ways the growth of a person; childhood to adolescence to adulthood and relative maturity. Increasingly instead of jokes played on unsuspecting people, issues such as free speech, Net neutrality, oppressive governments, and heavy-handed corporate influence are serving as rallying points for large numbers of Anonymous , bringing together diverse people from around the world. Such a mix of peoples from various cultures, experiences, and economic walks of life has served to make the language of Anonymous simultaneously familiar and highly dynamic.
Internet Language Like much of the the rest of the Internet, Anonymous share common phrases which evolved from chatspeak, leetspeak, and gamer slang. Common
texting/chat terms include lol (laugh at loud), brb (be right back), and kwim(know what I mean) and many others . Leetspeak, or l33t substitutes certain letters for numbers or ASCII characters and can be traced back to the BBS users and hackers (h4x0r$) from the early ‘90’s and ‘80’s. Common leetspeak conventions include replacing a plural ‘s’ with ‘z’, using ‘00’ to represent the letter ‘u’, and exchanging ‘er’ with ‘0r’. Gamer slang, popularized with the advent of many MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role player games), uses terms that were initially only familiar to those who would play particular games. Terms included FTW (for the win), FAIL(indicating a significant loss), and PKers (player-killers; gamers who tend to ignore quests in favor of killing other players). Slang terms from gamer culture, chatspeak, and leetspeak have crossed over and intermingled, reflecting the exchange of ideas and interests common to users of the Internet and thus Anonymous.
Origins: 4chan Anonymous as we know it today was born within 4chan; a website founded in 2003 which many members refer to as “the asshole of the Internet”. 4chan is an image sharing and forum website which consists of many sub forums, most infamously /b/. 4chan is commonly credited with being the source for some of the most popular Internet memes: from LOLcats to being Rickrolled. 4chan is a place where ideas and concepts flow freely and to some degree is an Internet version of a free-flowing wild, wild, West.
Everyone is anonymous on 4chan, archives aren’t kept there. There are no real rules, except never mess with cats. The absolute Anonymity of 4chan began to create something new; the hivemind of Anonymous. “Doing it for the lulz”, became a motto of both 4chan, specifically /b/tards (4chan members who identify with and hang out on the /b/ subforum) and Anonymous in general. Lulz is a derivative of the Internet-speak “lol” which means laugh out loud. Lulz is slightly more nuanced, satirical laughter which can cause harm, laughter in the face of things which are really fucked up such as watching a cat being thrown into a garbage can for no reason. Doing something for the lulz in general meant going on a raid - where a number of Anonymous would agree on a target to troll . Trolling is the common term for harassing an individual or organization through techniques such as DDOS attacks (denial of service), prank calls, doxing (researching and posting all personal information that can be found on the Internet on an individual or organization) or outright hacking of a website.
Early activity of Anonymous Early raids included such things as flooding the phone lines of a white supremacist talk show host, and doxing a 13 year old who made threatening videos. Anonymous of 4chan developed a language replete with inside jokes all its own. Any and all users were fags. Terms such as fags, nigs, and others served as a sort of shock filter from the outside world into the realm of /b/ and Anonymous. If a n00b, newfag, or person new to /b/ could get past the shock
value the language of /b/, then they perhaps had the intestinal fortitude to become a /b/tard themselves. As time went on additional terms developed such as moralfags; members of Anonymous who were more active and encouraged raids that were inspired by an injustice rather than strictly for the lulz, and lulzfags; Anonymous who kept with the original tradition of raids strictly for the lulz. As Anonymous grew, it evolved from being an extended joke to something that took itself more seriously. Legionfaggotry, the idea that Anonymous was many and important, began to take hold. Various media outlets who hyped Anonymous in an attempt to hype their ratings helped the concept of legionfaggotry to become an accepted fact.
Operation Chanology Operation Chanology was a raid that formed in the weeks after a Scientology video with a very manic Tom Cruise began circulating the Internet. The video in and of itself caused a good deal of amusement, which on the Internet would have provided a few laughs for a day or so. But it was the litigious-happy Scientology who tried to have the video pulled off the Internet which sparked Anonymous to take action beyond sending a few pizzas. Aside from someone hurting a kitten, nothing says “target” to Anonymous like censorship. Scientology became such a target to a very large segment of Anonymous . After a good deal of publicity, lulz, and various Anonymous attacks; Operation Chanology had reached a point in time where
previous raids would usually end and Anonymous would move on to new targets. Instead Anonymous changed: “site hacking stopped, and a new tactic was announced: A worldwide "RL raid" (real-life protest) on Scientology's offices.” No longer on the Internet, Anonymous developed a face - even if that face was frequently covered with a Guy Fawkes mask. Operation Chanology has yet to end, even though it is now on a smaller scale, because the Church of Scientology “is incapable of following one simple bit of Internet wisdom: Don't Feed the Trolls.” Thanks to the publicity surrounding Operation Chanology, more people learned of Anonymous and 4chan. More newfags joined. Not too much changed at first. Anonymous continued to find amusing things to do for the lulz, others on the outside learned how to operate around Anonymous after a fashion.
Wikileaks and the Political/Social Awakening of Anon Operation Chanology marked a distinct change in the evolution of language within the culture of Anonymous. Yet however serious some moralfags were about Scientology, the majority of Anonymous still focused on the lulz. The turning point for a substantial number of Anonymous came with the revelations of the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks in February of 2010 and the subsequent prosecution and treatment of Bradley Manning.
Once again censorship was the focus for Anonymous . The revelations from some of the diplomatic cables became an eye-opening glimpse into the workings of various governments. Efforts to censor Wikileaks, both tby the US government and then by financial companies including; Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal (suspending account established to accept donations), sparked Anonymous into action. Attacking large, faceless corporations was something that both lulzfags and moralfags could get behind. DDOS attacks were launched against Paypal, Mastercard, and Visa. Dox-ing of various officials occurred. In short, Anonymous became politically active on a level not seen before. Many Anonymous now seem to be focused in large part on assisting political movements which involve preserving personal freedom. Extensive hacking and demonstrations have occurred in support of many of the Arab Spring protests in the Middle East and in the continuing support of Wikileaks and accused Wikileaks source Bradley Manning. With new causes also came a new trend: namefags. Namefags are Anonymous who have come out from beyond anonymity to use recognizable names or even their real names on the Internet. Barrett Brown, a selfproclaimed former member of Anonymous, is one of the more visible examples of namefaggotry with a book deal to his credit. More recently, Anonymous’ actions can be seen in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Occupy Wall Street was in many ways is a crowdsourcing (collaboration online) protest without clear leadership. A classic form of
Anonymous organization. Members of Anonymous are key in disseminating information about various protest events and organizations related to OWS. Yet in keeping with their lulz-y roots, Anonymous are also supplying essential support in doxing various police officers accused of brutality and/or misconduct related to policing the protests.
Conclusion Anonymous is still very much evolving and growing. Simply doing it for the lulz is no longer enough for some who consider themselves Anonymous. Trolling a security firm or repressive government agency has proved itself to be far more satisfying than simply trolling one annoying person. In growing a conscience, Anonymous has invented open-source activism whose potential is unlimited. Bibliography
Internet Slang Windshell. “Brief Guide to Gamer Slang.” Real Poor. 20 Mar. 2009. http://www.realpoor.com/articles/Brief_Guide_to_Gamer_Slang_a200.html Unknown. “An Explanation of l33t Speak.” h2g2.com. 16 Aug. 2002. http://h2g2.com/dna/h2g2/A787917 Brandon, John. “FWIW - The origins of ‘Net shorthand.” Computerworld. 7 Nov. 2008. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9118481/Opinion_FWIW_The_origins_of_Net_shorthand? taxonomyId=16&pageNumber=1&taxonomyName=Networking%20and%20Internet Anonymous history. Norton, Quinn. "Anonymous 101: Introduction to the Lulz." Wired. 8 Nov. 2011. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/11/anonymous-101/. Anderson, Rita. "Anonymous." ars Technica. 2011 http://arstechnica.com/technopaedia/terms/2008/05/anonymous.ars.
Trimegisto. "History of Anonymous Hacktivism." The Trembling Uterus. Jan. 2011 http://tremblinguterus.blogspot.com/2011/01/history-of-anonymous-hacktivism.html. Estes, Adam Clark. "A Handy Glossary for the Hacker Family Tree." The Atlantic Wire. 8 Jul. 2011 http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/07/hacker-family-tree-anonymous-lulzsechistory/39751/. Anonymous in general. Anderson, Nate. “How one man tracked down Anonymous - and paid a heavy price.” ars Technica. Feb. 2011 http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/how-one-security-firmtracked-anonymousand-paid-a-heavy-price.ars/1 Bonner, Sean. Cat-trashing lady outed by the Internet in less than 24 hours." BoingBoing. 24 Aug. 2010 http://boingboing.net/2010/08/24/internet-finds-cat-t.html. Anonymous and Scientology. Dibbell, Julian. "The Assclown Offensive: How to enrage the Church of Scientology." Wired. 21 Sep. 2009 http://www.wired.com/culture/culturereviews/magazine/17-10/mf_chanology? currentPage=1. Unknown. “Tom Cruise Scientology Video.” Church of Scientology. 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFBZ_uAbxS0 Anonymous and Wikileaks. Bonner, Sean. "Wikileaks: Anon Stops Dropping DDoS Bombs, Starts Dropping Science." BoingBoing. 9 Dec. 2010 http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/07/hacker-familytree-anonymous-lulzsec-history/39751/. Jarden, Xeni. "Having DDoSed Mastercard.com to the ground, Anon sets sights on VISA." BoingBoing. 8 Dec. 2010 http://www.boingboing.net/2010/12/08/having-ddosedmaster.html#seealso95152bfdf3cdeec8cf824fd44470a08e. Noveau, Trent. “Doxed Barrett Brown looking for a safe house.” TG Daily. 10 Nov. 2011. http://www.tgdaily.com/security-features/59576-doxed-barrett-brown-looking-for-a-safe-house Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street. Captain, Sean. "The Real Role of Anonymous in Occupy Wall Street." Fast Company. 17 Oct. 2011. http://www.fastcompany.com/1788397/the-real-role-of-anonymous-at-occupy-wall-street.
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