It appears that the threat of Anonymous going after Facebook is either a hoax or the work of a small group of members and not an official operation.
A YouTube video purporting
to be from hacktivist collective Anonymous threatened to "destroy"
Facebook for spying on users and abusing people's privacy. But is it just a
A YouTube video posted July
16 under the Anonymous banner and entitled "Message from Anonymous:
Operation Facebook, Nov. 5, 2011" suddenly went viral this week. The
video, uploaded by a user named FacebookOp, claimed Anonymous will target and
"kill" Facebook Nov. 5 for cooperating with governments and handing
over user data.
"If you are a willing
hacktivist or a guy who just wants to protect the freedom of information, then
join the cause and kill Facebook for the sake of your own privacy," said a
robotic voice in the video.
Even though the disembodied
voice sounds the same as the one used in previous messages from Anonymous, some
security professionals are dubious the threat is real because it has not been
repeated by Anonymous in any of its "official" Twitter accounts or
posted on the AnonOps site. The fact that the video was posted almost a month
ago and has not been widely publicized was a clue, according to Rik Ferguson,
director of security research and communication at Trend Micro.
"The news around
#Anonymous to attack #Facebook on Nov. 5 most probably is fake," Eugene
Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, posted on Twitter Aug. 10.
The difficulty in
determining whether or not this is a real threat lies in the fact that
Anonymous is a loosely knit collective of like-minded individuals. They do not
act in concert, and there is no real hierarchy. So it's possible that this may
be a group of anarchy-minded hacktivists doing their own thing.
"No one can speak for
the whole of #Anonymous. There are some anons who support #OpFacebook whilst others do
not," according to the GroupAnon Twitter feed.
Another Anonymous account,
AnonOps, posted, "Dont be silly. Important things are happening in the
world to deal with quirks like #OpFacebook. Let's keep our style & moral
#Anonymous." Earlier, AnonOps used even stronger language, calling the
"op" a fake because "we don't 'kill' the messenger. That's not
The Twitter account
associated with the video, OP_Facebook, has been inactive since July 16, when
it made the initial post with the YouTube link. Kaspersky noted that the links
on the account went to Websites with suspicious advertisements.
The FacebookOp video made a
number of unfounded claims, such as accusing Facebook of "selling
information" to Egyptian and Syrian government agencies to spy on the
local population and "giving clandestine access" to information
security firms about users on the site.
The OP_Facebook video
warned, "Facebook knows more about you than your family."
While it may be true for
many users, it's "not exactly Facebook's fault" as the company only
knows what users choose to post on the site, Paul Ducklin, head of technology
for the Asia-Pacific group in Sophos. wrote in the Naked
Security blog, How much users reveal or don't reveal should be their
choice, and for someone else to kill it off entirely to further their agenda
"is arrogant and self-righteousness," Ducklin said.
Ducklin said the threat
amounts to a "concept of an Internet regulated" by a single group.
The date of the attack, Nov.
5, is known in the United Kingdom as Guy Fawkes Day. In 1605, Guy Fawkes was
arrested in what became known as the "gunpowder plot." He stored a massive
amount of gunpowder in a cellar room under the British Parliament with plans to
cause mayhem by blowing up the building while Parliament was in session.