Anonymous Released Names of Alleged KKK Members. Are They Right & Who Should Be Next? (Video)

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Anonymous, by its very existence, is a paradox. Meaning, quite literally, “unknown” or “unnamed,” Anonymous has made one of its main tenets the identification, by name, of those involved in illegal, elicit, or embarrassing activities. The decentralized, loosely organized team of activists and hactivists has risen to prominence over the last several years, engaging in offensives against the Church of Scientology, the Westboro Baptist Church, Wall Street, megacorps like Visa, the American police force, and many others who they view as having harmed civilians or profited from harmful institutions. Last month, Anonymous announced Operation KKK (“Hoods Off), its plan to reveal the names of members of the Ku Klux Klan, perhaps the most famous hate group in the world. In the days since, the fallout has been tremendous, with many of the named members unsurprisingly denying their involvement, and once again opening up the conversation about how Anonymous works, how they choose their “victims,” and who should be next to feel the wrath.

According to Anonymous’ own press release, the KKK have long been in their crosshairs. “We never stopped watching you. We know who you are. We know the dangerous extent to which you will go to cover your asses. Originally, we did not attack you for your beliefs as we fight for freedom of speech. We attacked you due to your threats to use lethal force in the Ferguson protests,” they claim. In an effort to thwart cries of injustice from those named, Anonymous continues making their goals clear: “We are not oppressing you, Ku Klux Klan. We are not here to strip you of your Freedom of Speech…You are abhorrent. Criminal. You are more than extremists. You are more than a hate group. You operate much more like terrorists and you should be recognized as such. You are terrorists that hide your identities beneath sheets and infiltrate society on every level.” And, so, with the parallels drawn to the hot-button American enemy that are “terrorists,” Anonymous has justified its exposing of upwards of 1,000 alleged KKK members’ names by arguing that these individuals are a criminal threat to the lives of innocent Americans, and should thus be identified as would any other terrorist operating with a goal of doing great harm.

In short, Anonymous has initiated a firestorm, one that involves many prominent politicians but perhaps more importantly the question of truth in the digital era. As reported by Snopes, the web’s foremost database of internet hoaxes and truth-seekers, there is much questionable information relating to OP KKK. “Anonymous-linked social media accounts claim to have discovered prominent politicians in the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan, but they haven’t yet released any confirming information,” Snopes claims. Furthermore, many of the articles that claim to contain the names of KKK members “cited documents published anonymously to the site Pastebin, to which anyone may upload text-based content. And as with any Anonymous-linked operation, anyone is also free to claim affiliation with the group and release information, falsely claiming that data was collected as part of an effort by the collective.” So, while Anonymous stands by its information, many are arguing that a complete and thorough vetting process is the only fair way to make room for the accusations against these alleged KKK members.

Regardless of the veracity of this particular Operation, it’s safe to say plenty of global citizens could come up with the names of other groups, collectives, individuals, corporations, and governments that deserve to have their names released to the public. In the era of online vigilantism, hacking, and social media, to whom does the duty of exposing various criminals and bad guys fall? If you were a member of Anonymous, who would you offer up as the next on the chopping block? Watch the video below to hear Anon’s official #OpKKK press release, which goes into great detail about motives and how others can help the fight.