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What Does Anonymous Mean?

Anonymous is a hacking group that initiates acts of civil disobedience without revealing user identities. Anonymous originated in 2003 in the "4chan" imageboard to symbolize the concept of an online global brain of community users. Anonymous is known for its widespread and rebellious hacking activities.


Although Anonymous is not specifically linked to a single online entity, the group is firmly interconnected via several websites comprised of noteworthy imageboards like Futaba, 4chan, affiliated wikis, Encyclopedia Dramatica and a variety of forums.

Techopedia Explains Anonymous

As noted by Anonymous members, group membership is easy to secure but conditional and achieved by concealing or hiding one’s identity when participating in online activities. Conversely, a member automatically loses his membership if an identity is revealed.

As Anonymous developed, its concept was followed by decentralized online community users, who acted in a more synchronized anonymous method with a freely unified objective focused on entertainment. Beginning in 2008, Anonymous started promoting collaborative global hacktivism by performing combined protests to promote freedom of Internet speech. Anonymous group activities are managed by unidentified yet self-attributed Anonymous members.

Internet forums and imageboards are key sources for Anonymous recruitment, as well as wikis and other Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks. Anonymous uses such mediums to communicate and organize protests.

In recent years, Anonymous has executed numerous hacking activities, including the Habbo and Hal Turner raids, Project Chanology, Epilepsy Foundation forum invasion, SOHH and AllHipHop website defacements, Operation Payback, Avenge Assange and Operation Sony.

In December 2010, Anonymous allegedly used an open source hacking program to apply denial of service (DoS) attacks to PayPal servers, resulting in PayPal unavailability over a four day period.

PayPal, MasterCard and Visa closed all WikiLeaks’ account activities after WikiLeaks published top-secret U.S. government reports that created instant humiliation and tension with key allies. For revenge, Anonymous, who was motivated by Assange’s WikiLeaks’ activities, instigated DoS attacks on PayPal by flooding PayPal servers and disabling user account access.

According to an August 2011 YouTube post, Anonymous claims plans to take down Facebook via "Operation Facebook" on November 5th, 2011.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.