Publicly, the hacking collective Anonymous appears to be decidedly anti-Donald Trump. But internally, there may be debate over whether an attack on the Republican Presidential nominee is really the best idea.
That’s according to a new report from The Guardian, which spoke with alleged Anonymous members. Internally, Anonymous members are debating whether they should attack Donald Trump as part of the OpTrump mission. There are some, according to the report, that believe hacking Donald Trump is true to Anonymous’ mission to target entities or individuals that may be acting inappropriately. Others, however, say that the Donald Trump attacks are not what Anonymous stands for and could ultimately be an attempt to limit free speech.
“There has been large amounts of opposition to this operation as many think that OpTrump aims to censor Donald Trump’s free speech,” a person claiming to be involved with Anonymous wrote on anonymous message board site Ghostbin, according to The Guardian. The user added, however, that the argument isn’t true, adding that Anonymous “does not stand for a specific political ideology.”
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Anonymous is one of the more secretive and least-understood hacking collectives on the Internet. It’s unknown how many members it has and there is believed to be no clear hierarchy. Instead, it’s a collection of individuals with hacking skills that rally around certain operations. Anonymous members are allowed to choose the operations they’d like to participate in, and sit out of those they don’t care about.
The OpTrump campaign, which has been ongoing for months, is evidence that in some cases, a “collective” of individuals with differences of opinion could create issues. But that alleged Anonymous members, who live in secrecy, are so publicly battling over whether to attack Trump is notable.
In a video published to YouTube on March 15 titled “Anonymous vs. Anonymous,” a robotic narrator claiming to represent Anonymous spoke out against the collective’s Trump campaign.
“We are feeling deeply concern[ed] (sic) over an Operation that was launched in our Name. The so-called Operation Trump,” the narration says. “Some individuals are promoting this Operation under the Collective Banner. Mainstream medias pushed this narrative. Deceiving people who are not aware of what is the mmbodiment of the Anonymous Idea itself. We, Anonymous, have always been defending Freedom of Speech. On Internet and in real world. We, Anonymous, are warning you about the lies and deceits pushed under our Banner. People are remaining free to express their own Will and Consent in a Democratic System.”
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The video went on to say that Anonymous wants the “will of the people (to) decide the fate of their nation,” adding that it doesn’t support “any operating that threats social peace in a democratic system—and never will.”
Still, the movement appears to be pressing on. Last week, another video was published, saying that Anonymous would launch a “total war” on the GOP frontrunner. The move came after Anonymous, which has taken aim at governments and organizations like ISIL, had already said it would attack Trump for his statements about banning Muslims from entering the country.
“Dear Donald Trump, we have been watching you for a long time and what we see is deeply disturbing,” the masked figure says in the video.“Your inconsistent and hateful campaign has not only shocked the United States of America—you have shocked the entire planet with your appalling actions and ideas. This is a call to arms.”
Last week, Anonymous seemingly made good on its promise to attack Trump and reportedly posted personal information about him online, including his birthday, birthplace, legal counsel, and allegedly, his cell phone number. A YouTube page reportedly linked to Anonymous asked participants to attack the website “trumpchicago.com” on April 1, or April Fool’s Day in the U.S.
But it appears those attacks may have annoyed at least some Anonymous members. One person claiming to have joined Anonymous told The Guardian that major Anonymous groups, including YouAnonCentral, have taken issue with OpTrump. They argue that the hacking collective should be targeting “the whole system, not just one man.” The person added that Anonymous also has many Trump supporters who don’t want to see his bid for the White House derailed by their efforts.
Ultimately, it’s hard to say how Anonymous feels about Trump, but The Guardian’s report seems to show clearly that not only is the GOP frontrunner controversial in the public, where Republican counterparts are trying to disrupt his campaign and Democrats are eyeing ways to diminish his standing as a Presidential figure, but also in the shadows where hackers live.
However, since Anonymous was intentionally established as a collective, with most members not knowing each other’s identities and allowing them to operate whenever they wish, it’s unlikely that any OpTrump campaign that may be planned will be easily put to bed. After all, just a handful of hackers working together could do just about whatever they want. But suddenly, it seems, Donald Trump has become the focal point of how to govern what is essentially an ungovernable group.
Will Anonymous move forward under its banner and attack Trump or will the other side prevail? If The Guardian’s sources are correct, Anonymous is trying to figure that out right now.