A social reform movement is defined as being a type of social movement that aims to make gradual change, or change in certain aspects of society, rather than rapid or fundamental changes. Reform, not revolution, is the movement’s strategy. Saki Knafo a writer for the Huffington Post has recently written about the history of Anonymous, a tech-reform social movement, that can be found here.

As Saki Knafo writes about in his article for the Huffington Post: Anonymous and the War Over the Internet, “Anonymous has no official membership, hierarchy or specific agenda.” Some “anons” (what members of the group call themselves) are more influential such as @YourAnonNews on twitter, however, these anons never claim to be the sole voice of the movement, rather they are just one of the louder of the many voices Anonymous has.

They have attacked government websites, Twitter accounts, United States high end bankers, and have even showed up at Occupy movements hidden behind the Guy Fawkes mask made famous by the movie V for Vendetta. But how do they work and how do they commit their attacks?

(Photo thanks to CDN.NDTV)

The group Anonymous contains an unknown number of anonymous members who reside and act solely online fighting for a number of different causes or social reforms. To make it easier to understand imagine the scene from Fight Club where Tyler Durden turns himself in for running a crime syndicate with multiple teams of operatives within the group that execute different operations categorized by two titles; mischief and mayhem.

According to anonrelations.net each type of operation can be organized under 8 different umbrella categorizations, similar to the mischief and mayhem in fight club. These different types of operations are; D0x, DDos, Trolling, Defacing, Hacking, Leaking, and Operations or Ops. In large umbrella terms these are the main ways Anonymous carries out its operations. There are more ways they go about creating change and each category has its own level of commitment to the group and its own possible illegality.

Some of these operations are technical computer terms or jargon, such as:

+ D0x which is the release of personal information collected off the internet.

+ DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service attack) which, simply put, is flooding a server with information or “users” to bring the website down for a time until the exploit used to shut down the site is fixed.

+ Hacks are an umbrella term for the access of another computer or server, leaking is the collection of private data and the distribution of said data through a mass medium such as torrents or Wikileaks.

+ Trolling and defacement are the possible stalking of someone through the internet and defacing what they do, say, work on, or anything they do to make someone’s online life virtually unbearable.

+ Ops are the blanket term that reside over all of these types of attacks or defacements. #OpAngel on Twitter is the operation that began after the suicide of Aaron Swartz to try and bring awareness of the injustices of the legal system.

In mid-January Anonymous hacked the department of criminal justice website taking it out of commission. After the damage was repaired by the United States government, anonymous went back into the same site creating a playable game of asteroids within the website itself. One of the Anonymous twitter accounts tweeted after putting the game live on the website that it is, “Hard not to appreciate that one: Asteroids is a far better game than sentencing innocents and scapegoats. #Anonymous #OpLastResort.” Creating a game on a government website shows their power to exploit government systems from the outside. It was not destructive, however, it was (as Anonymous puts it) for the “lulz”.

If one thing can said about Anonymous, it would be that they do not care what other people think or feel.

If they have something to say they will say it using any means that they see fit. Is all of it productive? No, is all of it worth making a point over? Not always no. They sit in a grey area of the internet, they sit where lines are only definable by the people who want to draw them. Anonymous creates these lines and is on the front lines of the battle for a free internet and a free country. It is hard to say where Anonymous will strike next, each attack is based off of an Op that is introduced to the mass of Anons and the only Ops that are played through are the ones that render the most support.

Millennials, Anonymous is changing the face of our planet, our nations, our personal freedoms.

Anons fight for the rights that most citizens are not even aware of. They offer a glimpse behind the curtain to the man running that giant wizard. However, unlike in the Wizard of Oz he does not offer answers or gifts. He offers questions, that lead to more questions, that lead to more questions. So beware, knowing what is behind the curtain is a dangerous realm to enter and a difficult realm to leave. Anonymous takes a stand in a world of grey areas and ask hard questions in a world where everything should be accepted.

But what do you think? Are they the good guys, or are they the bad guys? Is the illegality of their actions forgivable because of the cause it is for? Or is illegal, illegal no matter what? Where do we draw the line between respecting those put in authority over us, and fighting to keep our personal freedoms?

It is a grey area, and Anonymous is drawing the lines everyday. But what do you think?

(Cover Photo Thanks to DigitalTrends)