Anonymous (used as a mass noun) is a loosely associated hacktivist group. It (is estimated to have) originated in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain. It is also generally considered to be a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are not known. It strongly opposes Internet censorship and surveillance, and has hacked various government websites. It has also targeted major security corporations. It also opposes Scientology, government corruption and homophobia. Its members can be distinguished in public by the wearing of stylised Guy Fawkes masks. In its early form, the concept was adopted by a decentralized online community acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment. Beginning with 2008, the Anonymous collective became increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism. They undertook protests and other actions in retaliation against anti-digital piracy campaigns by motion picture and recording industry trade associations. Actions credited to "Anonymous" were undertaken by unidentified individuals who applied the Anonymous label to themselves as attribution. They have been called the freedom fighters of the Internet, a digital Robin Hood, and "anarchic cyber-guerrillas." Although not necessarily tied to a single online entity, many websites are strongly associated with Anonymous. This includes notable imageboardssuch as 4chan, their associated wikis, Encyclopædia Dramatica, and a number of forums. After a series of controversial, widely publicized protests, distributed denial of service (DDoS) and website defacement attacks by Anonymous in 2008, incidents linked to its cadre members have increased. In consideration of its capabilities, Anonymous has been posited by CNN to be one of the three major successors to WikiLeaks. In 2012, Time named Anonymous as one of the most influential groups in the world. Origins
The name Anonymous itself is inspired by the perceived anonymity under which users post images and comments on the Internet. Usage of the term Anonymous in the sense of a shared identity began on imageboards. A tag of Anonymous is assigned to visitors who leave comments without identifying the originator of the posted content. Users of imageboards sometimes jokingly acted as if Anonymous were a real person. The concept of the Anonymous entity advanced in 2004 when an administrator on the 4chan image board activated a "Forced_Anon" protocol that signed all posts as Anonymous. As the popularity of imageboards increased, the idea of Anonymous as a collective of unnamed individuals became an Internet meme. Anonymous broadly represents the concept of any and all people as an unnamed collective. As a multiple-use name, individuals who share in the "Anonymous" moniker also adopt a shared online identity, characterized as hedonistic and uninhibited. This is intended as a satirical, conscious adoption of the online disinhibition effect. “
| We [Anonymous] just happen to be a group of people on the internet who need—just kind of an outlet to do as we wish, that we wouldn't be able to do in regular society. ...That's more or less the point of it. Do as you wish. ... There's a common phrase: 'we are doing it for the lulz.'
| —Trent Peacock. Search Engine: The face of Anonymous, February 7, 2008.
| Definitions tend to emphasize that the concept, and by extension the collective of users, cannot be readily encompassed by a simple definition. Instead Anonymous is often defined by aphorismsdescribing perceived qualities. One self-description, originating...
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