Anonymous had launched 'total war' on Trump in 2016 that sparked infighting and made them disappear for 4 years
The vigilante group was last active during the 2016 election and a faction within Anonymous declared 'total war' on then-candidate Trump
After years of hibernation, it seems Anonymous has finally made a comeback in the midst of the ongoing crisis.
The hacktivist group recently grabbed headlines after threatening to expose the Minneapolis police department's "many crimes to the world" following the tragic death of George Floyd. The death of Floyd, an unarmed black father-of-two who died while being pinned to the ground by officer Derek Chauvin, has sparked nationwide outrage with violent protests surging as far as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta. But according to Anonymous, the defenseless 46-year-old's death is "merely the tip of the iceberg."
According to the hackers, at least 193 people have died at the hands of the Minneapolis police force in the past two decades. Some of the high profile deaths they listed are those of Jamar Clarke, Philando Castile, Justine Diamond, Thurman Blevins, and Brian Quinones — and we just cannot wait for the big expose.
The vigilante group was last active during the 2016 election, wherein a faction within Anonymous declared "total war" on then-candidate Donald Trump. At the time, they promised an operation that would dismantle his campaign that had "shocked the entire planet."
The Trump campaign seemed a perfect target for the activist hackers of Anonymous considering his constant use of Twitter. Furthermore, the group had already embarrassed giant targets in the past such as Sony Pictures, Fox News, and even the CIA. But as the Clinton campaign fell prey to bombshell revelations by Wikileaks, Anonymous was not able to touch the Trump political ascent.
It raised the question of whether the vigilante outfit had seen its final days.
Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, it emerged that Trump's rise to power had, in fact, split Anonymous due to infighting. Many had expected them to collectively become a significant voice against his campaign, but they were eventually rendered rudderless due to the apparent implosion.
“We believe that major Anonymous operations simply did not take place because of the divide of the collective on the political spectrums,” representatives from YourAnonNews told VICE News at the time. “The US election pitted friend against friend, mother against son. It did the same within Anonymous as many activists became caught up in the debate instead of remaining true and steady against the establishment.”
There were definitely some voices calling to take down Trump's websites, saying the candidate was causing "resurgence of racism and unrest." However, others openly criticized the so-called Operation Trump as being irresponsible and "cringeworthy."
Some of the hackers may have disagreed with Trump, but didn't think he should be censored. "Don't you think Trump has the right to speak his mind as everyone else," one user asked in an #OpTrump chatroom. "Even if it's right-wing?"
Several current and former members of Anonymous told VICE that the group is considerably weaker now than it has been in a long time.
“My personal opinion is that the concept, movement, and organization that is Anonymous is simply dead,” Hector X Monsegur, the best-known member of Anonymous and its offshoot LulzSec, who later became an FBI informant), told the outlet.
Anonymous gained mainstream popularity in 2008 after launching an all-out campaign against the Church of Scientology. They felt the church was trying to censor the internet by removing all traces of a video featuring Tom cruise which they thought portrayed them in a bad light.
The group would, for the next decade, harness the power of the internet in unprecedented ways. Their intermittent crusade for justice, destruction, irony, and revelation would often make the highest echelons of society shudder. As though it were a natural progression, Anonymous soon found itself battling censorship and trying to uphold free speech — using advanced techniques such as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Services) attacks to destroy websites they deemed threatening to human free will. In 2010, they came together to protest a censorship bill that was about to be passed in Australia. Later that year, they lined up behind Wikileaks after Amazon kicked founder Julian Assange's operation off its servers and financial giants such as Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal stopped processing donations to the whistleblower group.
That said, people found it difficult to understand Anonymous due to its decentralized structure. Moreover, the lack of leadership caused a litany of problems — with anyone identifying with the movement by saying "I am Anonymous" and several news outlets picking up statements from one member and associating it with the entire group.
“The media helped prop up Anonymous, and the media also helped shape it into what it is today: an anachronism of another time,” Monsegur, known as 'Sabu' in his previous life, said in 2016. “It’s possible that journalists and media organizations were burned by the failed ‘operations’ that became almost too common.”