Thursday, November 26, 2015

Anonymous War Against ISIS Backfiring?

Anonymous ISIS
When it was reported on this blog that Anonymous is planning a campaign against ISIS, many were skeptical. Coming in the wake of ISIS attacks on Paris, the #OpIsis campaign offered online activists an easy way to fight back against a frightening and genuinely evil group, all without closing their laptops.

However, as the campaign picked up steam, many complained the Anonymous efforts would actually cause more harm in the fight against ISIS. Many feared that it will muddy intelligence sources and flood traditional channels with misinformation. Now, those predictions seem to be coming true.

The bulk of the Anonymous efforts have been directed at taking down ISIS-linked Twitter accounts and websites. But on the Twitter side, those reports have been wildly inaccurate, according to a Twitter employee who spoke to The Daily Dot a few days ago.

Another investigation by Ars Technica found a number of non-ISIS accounts included in recent dumps, included because they had tweeted snarkily at an ISIS account or simply because they had tweeted in Arabic. Another observer found Kurds, Iranian, Palestinian, and Chechen accounts mixed in with the lists. As he noted, "I’m not saying all of the above are good guys, but they are definitely NOT ISIS."

Many actors within the campaign seem to be aware of the problem, and accounts began circulating a message urging participants to remember that "just because a website or post is written in Arabic or is from a person of Muslim faith does not and should not make them a target."

At the same time, the distributed nature of the campaign makes it difficult to enforce such a message uniformly. The missteps have become so pronounced that other Anonymous groups have begun to publicly distance themselves from #OpIsis.

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