I got a little thrill – a decidedly politically incorrect thrill – to hear that the “hactivist” group Anonymous was taking on Donald Trump. According to some sources they have even had some initial success by releasing the Donald’s cell phone number and social security number. But whether this is going to lead to anything real is up to debate.
An article by Abby Ohlheister in the Washington Post made the point that Anonymous has declared war on other people entities before, including the ISIS and the Donald himself, and it didn’t lead to much.
It’s certainly not going to hinder his campaign. As Ohlheister writes:
Anonymous has been “declaring war” on things for years, starting with its well-known war on Scientology in 2008. Those wars almost never lead to the total defeat of their enemies, as promised. The melodramatic language of these declarations tends to occlude the actual purpose and result of the operations behind them – for better or for worse – turning the popular understanding of Anonymous from what it is into a fantasy image of a bunch of elite hackers in Guy Fawkes masks, sitting behind computers doing some great hacks all day long.
Anonymous famously “declared war” on ISIS in November. But really, the video declaration was more like a recruiting strategy for one of a handful of existing campaigns within Anonymous, mainly a crowd-sourcing operation. Specific Twitter accounts thought to be connected to the Islamic State were flagged, examined, verified, and reported to Twitter for possible suspension from the site. The November announcement of “war” came as some within the operation lobbied for an escalation: The new proposal was that Anonymous should dox the personal information of the people behind those accounts, an idea that caused a lot of intense internal disagreement, which largely unfolded out of sight of popular interest in the idea of a bunch of mysterious Internet vigilantes going to war with the Islamic State.
In the case of the most recent “war” against Trump, the declaration promises a couple of things: first, that the people behind this particular operation will try to take down several websites connected to the Trump in retaliation for his “hateful” campaign for president; second, that it will take place on April 1. And third, that if enough people participate, somehow all of this will “dismantle” the campaign of a man who has thrived on moments that would have politically destroyed anyone else, and “sabotage” his brand.
But even so, if they just become a nice little thorn in his side and cause him some discomfort, that would be good enough for me.