For a group that made its name pulling such dumb pranks as sending "Justin Bieber syphilis" to the top of Google search results and collectively lowering the rating of Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger's signature Gibson, Anon's been getting awful serious lately. Well, at least a faction of Anon is. After a number of Anon-affiliated pages got shut down by Google+ last week, the group banded together over the weekend to react in the most obvious way: "Fine," they effectively answered, "we'll create our own social network." Conceived as an Anonymous answer to social networking, it was for two days known as Anon+. And then it failed in the lulziest way possible.
Actually, it's sort of misleading to label Anon as a "group," in that it can be described as that in only the loosest sense -- really, it refers to an otherwise unaffiliated miasma of interwebz hackers and general nerds who occasionally use Internet-based networks to coordinate mass action. Once upon a time, that mass action was, as noted, for the lulz, but lately the stakes have been getting higher; see, for example, the Anon-perpetrated DDoS attacks on Mastercard's website in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
It was in that spirit of activism that Anon+ was created -- explicitly so, actually. "Anonplus was meant to thwart government censorship -- so that in the case of a government blackout -- the people can still be heard," the site's homepage explained. "This social network is essentially: The activists [sic] dashboard."
What happened next was a perfect example of the double-edged-sword of the Anon name: By co-opting it, you lend some familiarity and credibility to your cause -- kind of like affiliating with a big-name political party. At the same time, however, you also attract the attention of the loose and fractured hive-mind of Anon itself -- which can be the equivalent of, you know, kicking the hive. Yesterday, Anon+ threw up its hands in relative defeat, announcing it would change its name due to the "people attacking us constantly making a hard project even harder."
Via the site, it issued this unintentionally hilarious statement:
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The idea and the outcome are the same. Freedom of expression over an anonymous platform. A simple and civil idea that some simply cant understand. Not only did we lose ourselfs in this project but we lost the cause. We exhausted both ourselfs and our followers to keep a bunch of kids entertained. This we can not stand for. There are those out there who would like to see us fail, We do not belive in failure. Now, we have supported anonymous in all its lulz but have felt both the touch and sting of its presence.
It's hard to feel too bad for the Anons behind Anon+. For one thing, the whole thing is sort of pointless, given that a widely-used anonymous social-networking platform already exists -- hey guys, remember /b/? -- but also, it's a comforting reminder that, in the end, lulz shall prevail. The Internets are no place for the humorless.