In writing, vigilantes are a popular genre; Batman, Spiderman, and, for older readers, Charles Bronson in Death wish. But in all these examples, the authors felt there was a danger of unaccountable power and usually expressed this through the lack of support by law enforcement.
The vigilante group (or hacktivist) group Anonymous attacked the KKK for their threats against protesters over the death of Michael Brown. At first, this looks like a great thing as the KKK are deplorable organization which adds nothing but hate to society. Additionally, if you look back through time you can repeatedly see the good Anonymous have done.
Though, I deploy the KKK, I do agree with freedom of speech and their right to be heard. However, Anonymous felt they over stepped the line when they threatened to hurt protesters. They had. The family and supporters of Michael Brown have their right to protest.
What happened next made me start to think about the power Anonymous have to destroy lives, especially the lives of innocent children.
Anonymous took control of the KKK member’s social media sites, group and individual. They obviously have had this potential control for a while and just waited to use it.
After that, they published the pictures of the children of the KKK members. These innocent children’s lives are now put in direct danger from the ongoing arguments they know nothing about and they are now tainted.
Beside the argument with protesters which they have now been placed in the middle of, they will, most likely, be bullied in school, or perhaps followed home by strangers, and older children might be brushed with their parent’s views affecting jobs, friendship, and maybe the chance that they will take a different view to their parents.
This decision by anonymous to post children’s pictures was horrible and stupid. How does it make you feel that a group this powerful can make such immature and reckless choices?
What next from Anonymous?
There are two areas I worry about:
The subtle, quiet attacks on people which members of Anonymous don’t like for minor day to day opinions—maybe I should not speak out in this blog.
What of the global events around the world; Russia in Ukraine, Chinese allegedly hacking the US national power grid, North Korea, Iran etc. The group anonymous have displayed a huge lack of judgment by posting the addresses and pictures of children, what about if they decide to attack Russia or China and those governments see the threat coming from the United States…could Anonymous start a new world war?
So, while I applaud their efforts to push back on groups like the KKK, I fear their power, lack of accountability, and absence of some simple common sense (or at least parental sense—do they have children?) leaves all our lives open to the discretion of a group of blinkered computer programmers.
My message to them is they listen and learn from feedback, and encourage responsibility and accountability within their own secret ranks.
How far should we let Anonymous go?