Experiments with Truth: Analysis

The truth about Anonymous’s activism

Ferguson was a hit to Anonymous’s reputation as masked Internet superhero that saves the day. Luckily, Anonymous’s own hero came to the rescue: the anthropologist Gabriella Coleman. In an interview with The Washington Post, Coleman cast the fiasco as a rare misstep. She was “really surprised” that Anonymous released the name of the wrong officer, since the group had been “pretty precise” in leaking “important data” in previous operations. Coleman suggested the error was either an unfortunate product of Anonymous’s “whimsical, experimental” nature, or else the entire operation was a “false flag” by an enemy meant to make Anonymous look bad. “I think both are completely plausible,” she said. A more obvious interpretation was not considered: the Anonymous mystique had allowed a group of incompetents to hijack, then discredit, an important grassroots movement in the eyes of national media. The absurdity of the Ferguson debacle is overshadowed only by the fact that somehow we are still expected to take Anonymous seriously. How did we get to a point where people expect a gang of young geeks with nanosecond attention spans wearing masks from an action movie, who write manifestos in faux-revolutionary prose and play amateur detective in chat rooms, to help a fraught social cause like Ferguson?

More Follow External Link to Adrian Chen, The Nation