The Online Avengers[SLNYT]
January 15, 2014 2:09 PM   Subscribe

I wonder which came first, Anonymous, or China's human flesh search engines.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:25 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I hate to comment before I've read the whole thing, but "very rustled up" in the very first paragraph? I have no idea what metalevel I'm being trolled on anymore.
posted by antonymous at 2:29 PM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Rustled jimmies
posted by entropicamericana at 2:37 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Soon enough, the vigilantes will make an error interfering in situations from afar.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:52 PM on January 15, 2014

A riot is an ugly thingk, undt vonce you get vun shtarted, there is little shance of shtopping it, short of bluudshet. I think, before we go around doxxing peeple, we had better made DAMN sure of our evidence, undt...
posted by delfin at 2:56 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Soon enough, the vigilantes will make an error interfering in situations from afar.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:52 PM on January 15

They already have.
posted by stinkfoot at 2:58 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

(Disclaimer: I am a millenial, although on the very-very-old end of the generation).

I really, really like this article. This bit strikes me as an insightful look into what it means to grow up online:
But the breakdown of OpAntiBully reflected the complicated nature of Ash’s motives for creating it, and Katherine’s too. They thirsted for community, for acceptance. But when the relationships within the group started to fray, there was no protocol for managing the bad feeling — no filter between the work and the personal disputes.
On top of a search for acceptance, it's also a search for purpose and for meaning in a culture that sometimes makes one feel small and insignificant.

On the other hand, this:
Why set down the weapon of Anonymous if you believe you can master it?
sounds like a question as old as humanity. But it's only recently that the average person with a computer and a passion could try to bend a nameless mob to their will.
posted by muddgirl at 2:58 PM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

(What I'm saying is that Anonymous didn't invent vigilantes or witch hunts or mob justice - they've just democratized it.)
posted by muddgirl at 3:00 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the potential of turning excessive non-local information into errors was briefly touched on in the article. What I found more interesting was that this small, tight-knit group was apparently doing lots of the heavy lifting, while larger, more loosely-affiliated (read: more democratic, less controlled) Anon groups perhaps are more likely to jump to conclusions. While not a direct focus of the article, it did a good job of getting the point across that it's a disservice to lump all these different Op groups together.
posted by antonymous at 3:08 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Anyone who thinks they can master Anonymous -- or control it, or even steer it for very long -- is mistaken. By its very nature -- fluid membership, no accountability except sometimes to their own, youth and all of its passions and complications, enthusiasm, lack of training, distrust of authority -- it is raw chaos with good intentions.

Sometimes it will do good things and hit targets others can't, sometimes it will flame out disastrously. It's all about what sources THEY trust at any given time.
posted by delfin at 3:08 PM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Ash got into a fight on Twitter with a 29-year-old British feminist, Caroline Criado-Perez, who had started a campaign that helped persuade the Bank of England to put Jane Austen on the £10 note. After she became the target of a stream of online threats, Criado-Perez went to the police, who arrested and charged two people. At one point, she threatened to report a friend of Ash’s who tweeted that she “could do with getting layed.” In response, Ash joined the Twitter attack on her and used a harsh misogynist epithet. To Ash, Criado-Perez wasn’t a woman who was being bullied for her views; she was a publicity hound baiting men to go after her and who “enjoyed being in the role of victim.” He refused to give her credit for trying to control her own narrative, and he didn’t see how berating her might be at odds with his stated desire to help victimized girls. “I don’t care about her feelings,” he said. “It doesn’t reflect my morals regarding what I do with children.”
Also, re: #opMaryville. Matt Barnett took a plea deal for misdemeanor child endangerment a few days after Daisy Coleman again attempted suicide and dead rabbits were left in Paige Parkhurst's car.

The lesson learned? Anonymous can be silenced by quickly naming a special prosecutor and then wrapping up the case with a rushed filing of charges followed by a brief hearing a few hours thenafter.
posted by Ardiril at 4:00 PM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I always think Anonymous - and by extension the flow of knowledge on the internet - brings into question a lot of what we assume about Truth and Veracity, and really forces us to question what we believe and why. The power of the narratives - I'm thinking of Ash's two different narratives of Girl I Save versus Woman Asking For it, for example - becomes clearer when you start to see how difficult it is to differentiate between accurate information, misinformation, and misunderstandings.

I have difficulty deciding what kind of information I will trust in the abstract, but in the specific I am credulous to the point of nonsense, sometimes, when someone tells me their story and they seem to be truthful. But I know that can be an illusion; that given perceptual errors, even my own "knowledge" can turn out to be false along a few different fault lines.

I personally think the unusual access we have to peoples' narratives about themselves has altered how I relate to Truth, Reality, and What Is Right - but in the middle of it, it's difficult to comprehend how encompassing (or not) those changes are.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:05 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Soon enough, the vigilantes will make an error interfering in situations from afar.

From what I could muck out of newspaper accounts, the effect Anonymous had on the outcome of the Steubenville case was nil. That one pretty much proceded as if no one had tried to interfere.
posted by Ardiril at 4:52 PM on January 15, 2014

Amusingly, Ash nailed the ‘solution’ to anonymous when he said “If I could quit my job and do this all day long, 10 hours a day, the effect and the fulfillment would be massive.” How do you ‘fix’ anonymous? You pay them.

At present, they're basically unpaid investigative reporters who occasionally engage in illegal activities, like hacking. Ain't nearly as bad as Rupert Murdoch about hacking though. And obviously draconian laws like the CFAA let U.S. authorities make anonymous' hacking look much worse than it is.

Of course, these anons would grow more responsible if they did it full-time, got degrees in journalism, etc. How many investigative reporters are the in the U.S.? Several thousand? Would $500M per year fund enough investigative journalists that *anyone* sufficently interested in ‘white-knighting’ would learn to do it properly?
posted by jeffburdges at 5:26 PM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Federal Bureau of Internethatemachine
posted by 256 at 11:15 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Somehow related : Six Realities of the Secret 'Troubled Teen Industry' (See also Help at Any Cost)
posted by jeffburdges at 3:17 AM on January 16, 2014

I really really think that most of these online vigilantes have serious emotional problems themselves (kind of like Batman).

Also, googling the words "rustled" and "jimmies" will bring up allllllllll sorts of shenanigans.
posted by zscore at 6:28 PM on January 16, 2014

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