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<nettime> Anonymous movement in decline?
Florian Cramer on Mon, 6 Jan 2014 03:41:36 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Anonymous movement in decline?

In a short but interesting article, he German newspaper Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung observes a decline of the Anonymous movement just in a
time where more and more of Snowden's material is being disclosed (
. Writer Sebastian D?rfler notes that "time is overdue for a sign of life
from the group that views itself as the protector of the free Internet and
epitomized digital activism: 'Anonymous'. Where are the hacker attacks and
digital protest campaigns of the white masks with the big grin? While the
Guy Fawkes mask from the film 'V for Vendetta' has become a symbol of
global protest, not much is to be heard from 'Anonymous' in their digital
home territory" [my translation, FC].

D?rfler argues that the Anonymous movement "understands itself as a
counter-public, but always relies on mass media attention". In the case of
the Snowden disclosures, it had lost its lead to the classical mass media
(like The Guardian) and other civil rights groups.

I'd suggest another explanation: Anonymous never consisted of skilled
hackers. As an inclusive popular cultural movement, that also wasn't its
point. Its concept of anonymity originated in registration-free Internet
communities like 4chan, not in darknets or the cypherpunk community - and
in that sense, it was technologically naive.

After the Snowden disclosures, every Anonymous activist has likely realized
that she or he is, in fact, not anonymous at all. Everyone ever involved in
the movement could easily be (or has already been) identified through
Internet surveillance data. This could be the simple reason why Anonymous
has become more visible as stickers, graffiti and as masks worn on street
rallies than in the Internet. Since the Internet might have become a too
risky medium to play "Anonymous" for most of the people involved, Anonymous
might have become a post-digital phenomenon.


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