Anonymous has declared "total war" on Donald Trump, encouraging its affiliate members to carry out cyber attacks on the outspoken Republican presidential candidate, Engadget is reporting.
On March 4, a person claiming to be an Anonymous operative posted a video. Dressed in the traditional Anonymous garb of a Guy Fawkes mask, voice digitally altered, the person calls on fellow operatives to take down Trump websites, as well as uncover and expose embarrassing information about the candidate.
"We need you to shut down his campaign and sabotage his brand."
And speaking directly to Donald Trump, the masked Anonymous operative said the planned cyber attack is necessary because "your inconsistent and hateful campaign has not only shocked the United States America, you have shocked the entire planet with your appalling actions and ideas."
Specifically, Anonymous has asked its hacker supporters to target the websites TrumpChicago.com, donaldjtrump.com, trump.com, trumphotelcollection.com, donaldtrump2016online.com, and citizensfortrump.com, as well as any other Trump-affiliated website, on April 1.
The group has also asked other to send its message, using the hashtag #opTrump.
— Derrick (@dbk1866) January 27, 2016
It bears noting that Anonymous, unlike, say, Greenpeace or the National Right to Life Committee, doesn't have an official organizational structure with a headquarters, a president, membership rolls, or any other hallmarks of an organization. Rather, Anonymous is made up of a loose collective of individuals operating under the Anonymous banner without any official affiliation with one another or any leaders to direct its operatives.
In other words, you or I could don a Guy Fawkes mask, alter our voices, and post a video claiming to be speaking on behalf of Anonymous.
Regardless, a widespread cyber attack on Donald Trump and his online presence seems to be consistent with Anonymous' general views. Although the organization lacks an official dogma, the group generally targets people and organizations whose practices it collectively deems as racist, hateful, discriminatory, or unfair.
For example, in 2012, Anonymous targeted Westboro Baptist Church, the Topeka-based congregation whose members picket funerals of soldiers and other high-profile individuals, usually carrying signs with hateful messages about gays. Anonymous operatives published the names, home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of church members, as well as taking down the church's website.
Similarly, in 2011, Anonymous operatives targeted websites distributing child pornography hosted on the supposedly secret and anonymous network Tor. Operatives published the user names of over 1,500 users of the website "Lolita City" and took down 40 other child pornography websites.
Anonymous' modus operandi tends to focus on computer hacking, either through gaining access to confidential information (such as phone numbers or Social Security numbers), potentially embarrassing information (such as nude photos), or bringing down a target's website(s) through distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
Anonymous has not always been successful in their cyber attacks. According to Israel National News, Anonymous has been attempting to target and disable websites affiliated with the Israeli government, with extremely limited success.
For his part, Donald Trump seems to have said and done plenty of things to run afoul of Anonymous, some of which are pointed out in the video. For example, the video shows clips of Trump saying that Mexicans are rapists, appearing to make fun of a disabled reporter, being called out by Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly for having called women he doesn't like "fat pigs," and responding that "she had blood coming out of her whatever" (an apparent reference to menstruation).
Do you believe that Anonymous is right to target Donald Trump? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images]