Remember, remember the 5th of November. That line means something to British schoolchildren and fans of the film "V for Vendetta"; it may soon mean something to the rest of us, too, if Anonymous has its way.
The extremely loose collective of geeky malcontents plans to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day in a big way. No, not by blowing up Congress, though they might get some support on that from both sides of the aisle, given that august body's single-digit approval rating.
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In a YouTube video, the Anons announced "Operation Fox Hunt," a plan to spank Fox News for its less-than-reverent treatment of the Occupy Wall Street protests, relative to the extremely sympathetic treatment the Foxers lavished on the Tea Partiers. (Memo to OWS: Want more favorable coverage on Fox? Wear more ridiculous costumes and carry misspelled protest signs.)
That fairly generic threat video was also accompanied by a tweet a few days ago from @Anonops, one of the "semi-official" sources for news about the collective:
Some corporations have the security level of a 90's website. Thanks for making it easy! Expect us the fifth of November.
I'd guess this threat is legit -- unlike, say, the threat to take down Facebook on Nov. 5, which was made on YouTube last July. That claim seemed to be strictly for Lulz, as the kids say. We'll find out soon enough.
Still, "We're gonna come get you" is not exactly the best way to sneak up on somebody. And pulling off yet another DDoS attack or website defacement isn't really the equivalent of planting 22 tons of TNT in the parking garage at Fox HQ. So one might wonder what good this will do, exactly. And if these guys really wanted to do something substantial, shouldn't they be trying to figure out how to take back all that bailout money we gave to Wall Street banks? (Not that I would suggest that anyone do anything illegal. It's against my contract.)
Ironically, Fox News was one of the first mainstream news outlets to give airtime to the Anons, calling them "hackers on steroids" and "an Internet hate machine" back in July 2007. (I first started chronicling Anonymous in early 2008.) And they were one of the few outlets to give credence to the Facebook threat made last summer. "Hackers on Steriods" has since been turned into an electro-dance video on YouTube. Of course.
The Anons, or at least some of them, are also calling for a physical protest against banks on Nov. 5. Dubbed either Operation Cash Back or Operation Cash Run, the goal is to urge the public to move their money out of large multinational banks and into local credit unions. This call to arms is so muted it seems almost mature, and so far, the YouTube videos have not exactly gone viral.
Still if you walk out your door on Nov. 5 and find people running around in capes and masks, remember, it's not still Halloween. It's just some PO'd hackers and their friends. Exactly how scary they'll be remains to be seen.
How will you celebrate Guy Fawkes Day? Post your plans below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "Anonymous takes on Fox News," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.