"We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us."
-- Anonymous slogan
Anonymous is often referred to as a terrorist or hacking group. While it is true that
web sites and services are frequently hacked and defaced with messages indicating that
Anonymous commited the act, many Anonymous operations, or "ops", are fact-finding missions, performed to make the public aware of a situation. These missions gather and organize relevant information - much of it publicly available. These collections are referred to as "d0x", and are made available on various web sites and email distributions. Anonymous also follows a practice of non-violence in their conduct, and have no interest in provoking physical confrontations.
Anonymous is widely accepted as entering the public eye in 2008, when they launched a series of protests against Scientology. Since then, they have actively participated in many "ops" in protest against various government and business activities. These ops include actions against numerous government websites around the world, public demonstrations in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and attempts to disrupt funeral protests performed by the Westboro Baptist Church.
The most identifying image of Anonymous, the Guy Fawkes mask, is taken from the 2005 film "V for Vendetta". Anonymous has extended the use of the mask as a form of protest as
represented in the film, and now uses it as a method of identification and solidarity. It is
also used to protect identities when protesting in public or online.
As the influence of the Internet spreads to all parts of the world, so too spreads the influence of Anonymous. Anonymous actions have had positive effects in countries such as India, Zimbabwe, Israel, and Canada, as well as throughout the United States. Anonymous lends its voice and influence to those who wish to speak freely and defend their rights from those who would opress them, be they civilian or government entities. While some of their actions might be frowned upon, there can be no denying that their actions do have a positive effect on the world around them.