No matter where your sympathies lie, nobody can deny that the events in Charlottesville on Saturday were tragic. As tensions that have been simmering for months erupted to a full boil this past weekend, opposing forces have been rallying their respective mobs in ways that harken back to the 1950s and ’60s in this country, and even the 1860s and ’70s. But with a twist: this time the mobs have taken not just to the street, but to social media, and vigilante justice has become online vigilante justice.
Before we go any further we need to make this clear: we are not a political news outlet. We are not commenting on the rightness or wrongness of any actions (while as individuals we of course all of have opinions about these events, these pages are not the place for them). This is an article about the phenomena of vigilante justice, and mobs, taking to the Internet and social media.
The first evidence of this was when the neo-Nazi, white supremacist, alt-right site The Daily Stormer appeared (and still appears) to have come under the control of hacking group Anonymous. We say “appears” because the style doesn’t seem to be entirely consistent with other incidents in which Anonymous has been involved (for one thing the notice “from” Anonymous also leaves the entire site up “for 24 hours so the world can witness the hate”, and for another thing the message is signed off by “Hackers of the world united in defense of the Jewish people.”
Note Purported to be from Anonymous on the Daily Stormer Site
However, Anonymous tends to simply take a targeted site down, leaving a single page with their signature, decrying whatever the site has done, and not making a statement in support of any particular group.
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Note from Anonymous on the Hacked Steubenville High School Big Red Website Regarding the Steubenville Rape Case
What’s more, one of the Twitter account known to be linked to the Anonymous organization (TINAO ← that’s a little inside levity for our Internet security colleagues), YourAnonNew, has said “We have no confirmation that “Anonymous” is involved yet. Looks more like a DS stunt. Wonder if they are having issues finding a new host,” adding in a reply Tweet that “We find claim that it took a “UNITED FORCE OF ELITE HACKERS” to hack a CMS run by amateurs incredibly amusing.”
By “a DS stunt”, Anonymous is suggesting that the Daily Stormer invented this alleged Anonymous hacking of their site (geez, fake news is everywhere, even on hate sites!)
The “Wonder if they are having issues finding a new host” refers to the fact that the DS webhost, GoDaddy, has booted them. And indeed, it seems that at least one instance of the site is now being hosted by telia.net
$ traceroute dailystormer.com traceroute: Warning: dailystormer.com has multiple addresses; using 22.214.171.124 traceroute to dailystormer.com (126.96.36.199), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets 1 192.168.0.1 (192.168.0.1) 1.601 ms 0.891 ms 1.045 ms 2 hlrn-dsl-gw04.hlrn.qwest.net (188.8.131.52) 9.711 ms 13.232 ms 9.085 ms 3 hlrn-agw1.inet.qwest.net (184.108.40.206) 12.863 ms 9.331 ms 9.175 ms 4 dvr-brdr-02.inet.qwest.net (220.127.116.11) 9.523 ms 11.990 ms 10.160 ms 5 den-b1-link.telia.net (18.104.22.168) 26.806 ms 24.518 ms 22.044 ms 6 cloudflare-ic-316983-den-b1.c.telia.net (22.214.171.124) 21.392 ms 10.952 ms 9.632 ms 7 126.96.36.199 (188.8.131.52) 9.925 ms 9.248 ms 9.227 ms
Next, in a mob vs. mob tactic, users on Twitter have banded together to identify and out those who were part of the white supremacist mob at Charlottesville, and as a result at least one person has already been fired from their job for having been part of the violent alt-right crowd.
It all started when Twitter account YesYou’reRacist (we added that apostrophe for ease of reading, Twitter doesn’t actually allow apostrophes in usernames), which, we should mention, has been on Twitter since 2012 (so not a new account in response to recent events) tweeted:
“If you recognize any of the Nazis marching in #Charlottesville, send me their names/profiles and I’ll make them famous #GoodNightAltRight”
Note that as of the time of this writing, this tweet has been retweeted over 62 thousand times.
Since then, several of those from the (alt)right demonstrating in Charlottesville have been publicly identified, and at least one has lost their job as a result:
(Yes, it’s true, in another sign of the times, the torch-bearing mobs were wielding, yes, tiki torches.)
As we said at the outset, we are not a political outlet. Our purpose in reporting this information is to report on the rise of the new paradigms of vigilante justice and mob vs. mob taking place online and through social media. Any abusive or just plain rude, or off-topic, comments will be deleted.
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