Call it deja vu. Shortly after an individual posting under the Anonymous banner shared a YouTube video promising to target Facebook on Jan. 28, other Anonymous members have said they don’t have any intention of targeting the social network.
A tweet from the AnonOps Twitter account, which has correctly announced attacks in the past, denied the attack. “Again we must say that we will not attack #Facebook! Again the mass media lie,” said a tweet posted to the account. It’s an echo of an announced Nov. 5 attack on Facebook that came to nothing after other Anonymous members said the attack was not sanctioned by many of the group’s most public members.
That announced attack was a protest over Facebook’s privacy policies. The cause behind this month’s threat is less clear, though the narrator of the posted video appears to equate Facebook’s actions with those of supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act.
But that rings a bit hollow, as Facebook has been a vocal opponent of both bills for months, signing onto opposition letters with lobbying group NetCoalition and posting its position against the bills. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg even criticized the bills in a post on his public Facebook page and appeared to break three years of silence on Twitter to encourage his followers to oppose the bills.
The disconnect highlights Anonymous’s biggest problem: By letting anyone who claims to be part of Anonymous take up its banner, the larger, loosely organized group often sees its message fractured.
Although much has been made of the announced attack on Facebook, however, it seems most of the group is focused on a different effort. Following its attacks on the Justice Department and music studios over the takedown of Megaupload, the most prominent Anonymous Twitter accounts have been focused on opposition to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — a European copyright infringement treaty that critics say is tantamount to Internet censorship. Anonymous groups targeted Polish Web sites in protest of the treaty, taking down some government Web sites.
The Associated Press reported that Polish officials have said they plan to sign the treaty in spite of the attacks, saying that it “in no way changes Polish laws or the rights of Internet users and Internet usage.”