“Behind a Veil of Anonymity, Online Vigilantes Battle Islamic State”
The New York Times, March 25, 2015, p.A4
“In what has become a cyber analogy to the battles in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere between governments and the Islamic State, online vigilantes, some of them with diverse agendas, have united in a common cause to subvert the militant group’s aggressive use of social media, particularly Twitter. They expose suspect accounts that they post on blacklists via Twitter, and encourage other Twitter users to report the accounts to the social media network’s violations department, a prerequisite for suspension or deletion. ‘Basically our work not only cripples their ability to spread propaganda, but also wastes their time,’ said a Twitter vigilante who goes by the screen name The Doctor. … Some vigilantes are affiliated with loosely knit hacking organizations like Anonymous, known more for infiltrating computer networks of governments and corporations to make political statements or for the ‘lulz’ — the hacker term for laughs. Others are lone operators. But all view groups like the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, as an insidious threat. More than a few are women, some of whom call themselves Anonymisses, and some say they spend hours a day online hunting ISIS. … This month Anonymous and two related hacking groups, CntrlSec and GhostSec, have sought to take matters into their own hands, publicizing Twitter accounts that they say are operated by the Islamic State in violation of Twitter’s policies on unlawful use. In recent days they posted a list of 9,200 suspect accounts.”
Quickie analysis: The hackers may not always be on the right side of the law, but they certainly have their hearts in the right place.