Anonymous to take down Facebook?

The world's most notorious hackers are allegedly targeting the world's largest social network. But Cringe isn't buying this one

It appears Anonymous is planning to take down Facebook on Nov. 5 (Guy Fawkes Day for you Brits). Or at least, so claims this YouTube video, which features the usual robotized voice and "Outer Limits"-like TV effects we've grown so fond of over the years.

Strangely, the video was posted to YouTube on July 16, yet it only got widespread attention yesterday. I suspect that was due to Fox News picking it up and Google News promoting the Fox News story on its home page (though I can't prove that). Video views zoomed from about 300,000 to about 800,000 in the space of 24 hours. Can you say "slow tech news day"?

[ Cringley says it's a hacker's world, we just live in it and offers a lesson for would-be hacktivists in "When digital protest turns into cyber crime." | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. ]

As regular readers are well aware, I recently absorbed a fair amount of heat for not crying foul over a report that IE users are dumber than dirt. So let me just say this up front: I think this is a hoax. Somebody is having us on. And several security wonks agree with me.

Here are my reasons:

  • The script for this two-minute statement is barely literate. Contrast that with some of the blisteringly articulate screeds the Anons have posted on sites they have pwned, such as Sony or HBGary. By and large, those statements have a consistent voice, which means they were most likely written by the same person. This one was clearly composed by a less-skilled provocateur
  • In general, when the Anons picks on somebody, the victim has done something pretty obvious and/or egregious to inspire their wrath. What has Facebook done lately to Anonymous?
  • I don't remember the Anons ever creating this kind of call to arms so far in advance of the actual date. Picking Guy Fawkes Day is just too obvious. And how, exactly, are they going to attack? Another DDoS? A hack? I doubt even the Anons are sophisticated or numerous enough to pull that off.
  • The video makes several claims that aren't true. Not that the Anons are sticklers for facts, but for example: "….deleting your account is impossible, even if you 'delete' your account, all your personal info stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time." That is of course BS. It's not easy to permanently delete your Facebook account, but you can do it.
  • Or this whopper:
  • Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world. Some of these so-called whitehat infosec firms are working for authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria.

    Even I am not paranoid enough to believe that. Sure, the CIA, NSA, and their foreign equivalents are using Facebook. But they don't need Facebook's cooperation to do it.

  • There's no Twitter echo chamber from the usual suspects, and the account that's associated with this video contains exactly one tweet –- one promoting the video.
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