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Anonymous Denies Targeting Westboro Baptist Church 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the listen-to-admiral-ackbar dept.
lenwood writes "Last week we discussed news that the hacking group Anonymous was staging an attack against Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church. It turns out that this was a publicity stunt staged by WBC themselves. Anonymous issued a press release disassociating themselves from this."
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Anonymous Denies Targeting Westboro Baptist Church

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  • Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:27PM (#35273342)
    I was a bit perplexed when I heard they were bothering with the WBC, and figured it was somebody's publicity stunt. There are much better targets in the world than a bunch of loons and their opportunist leader...
    • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

      by exomondo (1725132) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:32PM (#35273388)
      But that's the thing Westboro members could be Anonymous too, it's interesting how this "non-group" can denounce a release as not representative of Anonymous.
      • For that matter, WBC may not be involved at all. Those knuckle-draggers inventing a fight with anonymous to get attention seems far too complex and subtle for WBC to have thought up. The group stands outside of funerals with signs: they don't strike me as genius viral marketers. Maybe anonymous is just effectively trolling itself publicly?
        • by mug funky (910186)

          anonymous always trolls itself.

          if the WBC have access to fox news, they could have thought this up.

          i'm not sure about opening their ports to harvest IPs. their ports are probably open because they don't know how to close them.

          • by Z00L00K (682162)

            And it may well be that Anonymous isn't one group but several groups using the same name/cover.

        • by billstewart (78916) on Monday February 21, 2011 @08:40PM (#35274350) Journal

          If you think they're not genius viral marketers, you haven't been paying attention to how you heard of them or why you know what they claim to stand for or why TV covers them when they're standing out there with signs. They're not just dumb bigots, they're a sociopathic family of lawyers, who go out and make themselves as publicly offensive as they can, so that people will attack them and towns will ban them and they can make money by sueing them. They're also happy to get donations from actual knuckle-draggers and from right-wing politicians who profit from the Culture Wars, but it's really about the lawsuits and the publicity.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Exactly this. Some years back these asshats announced their intention to come to my (then) town to protest a military funeral. The family attorney, which is to say a family member who is an attorney, did some research on their MO and came to exactly this conclusion. They are a family who profit by basically entrapping otherwise-reasonable people into violating their civil rights. They're the type of people who'd stand around MLKJ's grave screaming "nigger" over and over while pulling their hair and carrying
            • by jez9999 (618189)

              all so they can sue when some otherwise kind black guy finally has enough and just kicks one of their asses.

              To put a rather fine point on it: they profit on the essential protections the Framers imagined in order to give people the right to be an asshole. It's like the arbitrage of liberty or something.

              All depends on how much he kicked their asses. Dead people don't tend to sue.

          • Sounds like the plot to Pacific Heights. I didn't really like that movie just because it sounded too plausible, like too many people would run out and try it.

      • by fractoid (1076465)

        But that's the thing Westboro members could be Anonymous too, it's interesting how this "non-group" can denounce a release as not representative of Anonymous.

        What I find fascinating (not to mention hilarious!) is that some person claiming to represent Anonymous (!) has more credibility than WBC.

    • That is exactly what I thought at first.
      At second thought, it was 'why would Anonymous even bother with replying to an obvious troll?'
      Third thought was to suspect some third party as the instigator in this.
      I don't know, by nature[theoretically] Anonymous is, well, anonymous, and has nothing to fear from WBC, thus should have no interest in any opinion that WBC has to offer, but there is the 'street cred/e-peen' POV to consider for Anonymous.

      The more I think about it, the more I'm torn between taking sides w

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked have been sacked.

  • Way to get yourself on anon's shit list. Not something I'd be eager to do.
    • An attack by Anonymous never made much sense to begin with. It's not like WBC has this huge network of computer assets to attack - they're, what, about 5 people? I doubt that shutting down their multi-function printer/scanner/fax machine would really faze them much.

      I doubt any individuals or really small groups have much to fear from Anonymous, as the results Anonymous could obtain would be pretty meager compared to the amount of effort required.

  • Written by WBC? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by exomondo (1725132) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:29PM (#35273366)
    It was probably written by Westboro themselves to get some publicity.
    • by exomondo (1725132)
      ffs...why don't italics tags work anymore?!
      • Re:Written by WBC? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2011 @07:00PM (#35273618)
        Apparently some muckity-muck standards writers decided that "em" was a better tag for italics than "i", because people use italics when they want to "emphasize" something. Slashdot's latest update incorporated this change. Sorry all for the off-topic post.
      • Re:Written by WBC? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anachragnome (1008495) on Monday February 21, 2011 @07:09PM (#35273676)

        "ffs...why don't italics tags work anymore?!"

        Did they ever work? In the 5-6 years I have been coming to /. it hasn't worked for me once. I gave up long ago and just use caps for emphasis. That doesn't work for properly displaying titles, latin, etc., though.

        What REALLY bothers me is that now, since the format change, every few posts into a discussion something breaks and every subsequent post is double-spaced and the moderation tag is missing. Moderation tags are also missing from posts in the comments section of my account page (my posts, as well as all others).

        The double-spacing really sucks...it turns every post into a wall of text and effectively doubles the scroll length of every discussion. If it was consistent, I might get used to it, but it seems completely random and sticks out as something "broken" each time I encounter it.

        • I see the double-space thing too ... but it goes away if you open the parent comment.
          • "... but it goes away if you open the parent comment."

            Which kind of defeats the purpose of hidden comments.

        • As long as were spreading out into complaining about slashdot's formatting, I really hate how the comments' widths are determined:

          It looks like they're dynamically adjusted by some javascript code when you resize the browser window*, and said code also has a minimum width that is in the high 700s. This guarantees that comments not only have way more than the recommended 70ish characters, but that I cannot resize the column to a more appropriate size. Also, if I don't want to have to side-scroll, I have t

        • Italics have always worked for me.

          Perhaps you're doing it wrong.

        • by justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @01:43AM (#35276094)

          "ffs...why don't italics tags work anymore?!"

          because God hates tags

        • by Nimey (114278)

          Yeah, wouldn't it have been /smart/ of Taco to have put up a public beta server for a while before just dumping this new discussion system on us?

          I seem to recall that's what they did way back when the old-new discussion system was introduced, even.

      • by drawfour (791912)

        ffs...why don't italics tags work anymore?!

        They do. At least the preview shows it working.

    • Re:Written by WBC? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:46PM (#35273512)
      But since anyone can act as Anonymous then the WBC claim was legit. I can put up a server, make myself a part of Anonymous, attempt to hack my server, leave Anonymous, then claim Anonymous tried to hack my server.

      In fact, how do we know who issued the Anonymous press release? On the anonnews website it says, "Anyone can post to the site, and moderators will approve relevant posts. No censorship takes place!"

      Maybe Anonymous should look into LifeLock...
      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        But since anyone can act as Anonymous then the WBC claim was legit. I can put up a server, make myself a part of Anonymous, attempt to hack my server, leave Anonymous, then claim Anonymous tried to hack my server.

        Technically you're correct, but in practice this is wilfully pedantic, unhelpful and not the interpretation any reasonable person would put on it. So, typical Slashdot then :-)

        In all seriousness, while one can argue that the "membership" of Anonymous is open to the point of meaninglessness, I don't think you could say that "Anonymous" attacked WBC if they attacked themselves.

        Oh, and I'd like to say that WBC are a bunch of attention whores... but then, that's not news.

    • It was probably written by Westboro themselves to get some publicity.

      So one group of attention whores used another group of attention whores. There's an Apple-like simplicity and elegance to the whole scheme.

      • by exomondo (1725132)
        Oooh you better be careful there, some Anonymous fan will come whining about how Anonymous is not a group but its a concept or something along those lines ;)
  • But somehow I'm not surprised at all.
  • How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:32PM (#35273392)
    How can a group that by it's very nature has no central control or even consistent make-up release such a statement. How does one member or group of members of Anonymous know whether or not any other part of Anonymous is/was doing something?
    • You join CommanderX's newsletter.

    • How can a group that by it's very nature has no central control or even consistent make-up release such a statement. How does one member or group of members of Anonymous know whether or not any other part of Anonymous is/was doing something?

      Because Anonymous has central control ever since people started taking control and the stupid teenage white knight let's all save the world teenagers started flocking to them to be a part of something. There are people that like to act like they're in charge of things so they speak for the "group". What was once "Anonymous" has completely changed and is now totally different from what it was 5 years ago.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        What was once "Anonymous" has completely changed and is now totally different from what it was 5 years ago.

        And yet it still fulfills the original function, possibly without any input from the original people-who-got-shit-done, who are now free to do other things. Win!

    • by mooingyak (720677)

      If I didn't do it, and I were to deny doing anonymously, would that count?

    • ..How does one member or group of members of Anonymous know whether or not any other part of Anonymous is/was doing something?

      Once you upgrade to a 4chan Gold account it becomes really clear. Thats how you meet up with other anons and connect to the hive mind. I havent paid my dues in quite a while tho...

      Tm

  • But... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mishotaki (957104) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:36PM (#35273416)
    it was anonymous from an anonymous group did an attack anonymously... just not the same anonymous guy from the same anonymous group doing an anonymous attack...
    • Except if the WBC is claiming responsibility, then they're no longer anonymous, they're just jerks.
      • Except if the WBC is claiming responsibility, then they're no longer anonymous, they're just jerks.

        Yes they are. But to be fair, they were jerks long before this.

  • by dmomo (256005) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:38PM (#35273430) Homepage

    Here we are talking about it. How about we all just make a mental note to forget the name of the barber shop that did this, close the thread and carry on?

  • From TFA: The church sent out its own open letter, telling the online hacktivist group to “bring it.” “A puddle of pimple-faced nerds organised under the cowardly banner of ‘Anonymous’ claim they plan to hack Westboro's websites Bad miscalculation, girls!” said the letter. “Let us tell you how this will go: rebels will build a full head of steam based on false hope; the media will predictably do much breathless anticipating while giving another tsunami of coverag
  • Not a defined group (Score:3, Informative)

    by DanTheManMS (1039636) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:42PM (#35273482)
    Anonymous isn't a defined group of people. That's kinda the point. It's very possible that some of them, or even a single person, has severe enough of a problem with the WBC to try to attempt such a stunt. I suspect however that the vast majority have the good sense not to get involved with something so senseless.

    Similarly, Anonymous can't "issue a statement" that represents the entire group. This AnonNews website, whoever they are, have no more say in the doings and actions of Anonymous than any other member of the group. Can the SlashDot staff make claims on behalf of every nerd who happens to visit the site for technology-related news, especially on things in which the SlashDot community is deeply divided? Of course not. Same thing here.

    This whole thing is freaking ridiculous. You've got two groups of trolls trying to figure out who's attempting to troll whom, and if said trolling is a threat to their own trolling efforts. Why exactly this is considered news is beyond me.
    • by Mysteray (713473) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:53PM (#35273568) Homepage

      You've got two groups of trolls trying to figure out who's attempting to troll whom, and if said trolling is a threat to their own trolling efforts. Why exactly this is considered news is beyond me.

      I think it's delightfully surreal. A postmodern civil war in cyberspace. Now being disclaimed by one side!

      These groups were simply made for each other, for our entertainment. Certainly a better use of packets than streaming sitcom television anyway.

      • These groups were simply made for each other, for our entertainment. Certainly a better use of packets than streaming sitcom television anyway.

        Huzzah! Those with mod points, heed this voice!

    • by PhilHibbs (4537)

      Similarly, Anonymous can't "issue a statement" that represents the entire group.

      Yes they can. Anyone can. What matters is, whose ideas take root within the Anon community and are converted into action. It may be that some Anons saw the original declaration and thought "cool, they're a bunch of jerks that I hate, I'll DDOS them", and then when they saw the "we stand for freedom of speech, even if we dislike that speech" denouncement, I expect that most of them would realise that, yes, this isn't the sort of thing that Anon should be doing.

  • this is the nutcase church of the inbred Phelpses, after all. if we all ignore these coocoos, they will go away to whatever fire and brimstone meets them for not loving their enemy, and their neighbor, as thyself.

    hopefully, that would also apply to the MRs in the domain registry routers, as well ;)

    • by CompMD (522020)

      "if we all ignore these coocoos, they will go away to whatever fire and brimstone meets them for not loving their enemy, and their neighbor, as thyself" ...but it would be really nice to hasten that meeting.

  • Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:45PM (#35273502) Journal

    Every time an article comes on here about Anon everybody bashes the news organizations for saying Anonymous has a hierarchy with 'senior' members, leaders, and so forth.

    So why are you so quick to accept this? How can this press release saying 'Its not really us' carry any more weight then one saying "It's us".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:50PM (#35273548)

      Parent is correct.

      We need another press release by Anonymous to confirm this is from Anonymous.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So why are you so quick to accept this? How can this press release saying 'Its not really us' carry any more weight then one saying "It's us".

      There are no leaders of Anonymous, so if you happen to be Anonymous, you've gotta figure out what to believe for yourself.

      In this case, the hypothesis that Anonymous has better things to do with its time makes more sense than the original idea of attacking WBC. And because the text in WBC's "come at us bro" had patterns that identified its author as the same one a

    • In other words, if the westboro baptist church says they are Anonymous, they are, as long as they don't tell anyone their name. They are as much as anyone else is.
    • by Ksevio (865461)
      Wouldn't members of the WBC who claimed this as anonymous BE a part of anonymous? That's what people claim- that you just have to say you're part of it.
    • by sco08y (615665)

      Every time an article comes on here about Anon everybody bashes the news organizations for saying Anonymous has a hierarchy with 'senior' members, leaders, and so forth.

      While the news orgs assume that there is some old guy with a title running things, and that's probably wrong, there is going to be a hierarchy. At some point, they're making decisions, and some members will more often defer to others on the groups' overall direction. This is probably a fairly informal hierarchy, and may even shift from one project to another, but it's going to be there. The division of labor is a natural phenomenon that happens even if you don't plan on it.

      So why are you so quick to accept this? How can this press release saying 'Its not really us' carry any more weight then one saying "It's us".

      If this is fake claim by WBC, it f

  • This is the problem with having a group like anonymous. Anyone can claim to be "it". Frankly it's starting to seem pretty silly to me, and nothing I would even take seriously at this point.
    • by enoz (1181117)

      I cringe every time I hear someone describe Anonymous as a 'group'. This loose collection of individuals clearly have no hierarchy, rules or membership.

      Anonymous may be a gathering of sorts, but the best description I have seen is a Stand Alone Complex [wikipedia.org].

  • by miruku (642921) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:47PM (#35273524) Homepage

    Not DDoS WestBoro Our riposte - http://anonnews.org/?p=press&a=item&i=494 [anonnews.org] >>What to actually do: http://anonnews.org/?p=press&a=item&i=492 [anonnews.org] >>> READ: http://goo.gl/fwaLG [goo.gl]

  • by initialE (758110) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:53PM (#35273572)

    Anyone could claim they spoke for anonymous. How do you verify it? Thing is, someone threw out the idea of targeting WBC, and a lot of people agreed that they were being enough of a dick to warrant becoming their next target. Anonymous must have some trouble filtering the real messages from random spam out there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No seriously bro, we're not going after them.

  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:56PM (#35273582) Homepage

    I heard they have scientific proof that god exists. it's on their website. Somewhere. I'm sure. If we all look for it for about 5 or 10 minutes I'm sure we'll find it.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I've seen it, it's hidden right behind the stacks of gay porn, er "research materials."

  • Anonymous state they're too busy now to bother with these clowns, but I wouldn't be surprised if something nasty happened to the individuals behind the WBC in the future.

    It's the same principle as the HBGary story -- you don't poke a wasp's nest with a stick.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Anonymous It's the same principle as the HBGary story -- you don't poke a wasp's nest with a stick.

      Of course not. Wait for a cold day, and carry the pretty nest home.

  • by magarity (164372) on Monday February 21, 2011 @07:25PM (#35273788)

    The people at Westover are just loudmouth jerks. It's the seriously fringe nutcases at Landover Baptist who worry me.

  • How can anonymous deny anything ?
  • by JumperCable (673155) on Monday February 21, 2011 @09:46PM (#35274808)

    It's not like AnonNews announced they traced the IP address of the poster back to the WBC. Sure. It could have been them. It could also have been just about anyone who has a beef with the WBC. Many people are chomping at the bit to take them down and have tried to recruit 'Anonymous' to do this. But they haven't been successful in the past. For all we know it was the folks from HBGary trying to pick a fight between the two groups to provide ground cover. But again, that is still nothing more than idle speculation.

    I don't think Anons will ever do anything against the WBC just because they have no power. WBC may be annoying assholes. But at the end of the day that is all they are. They can pretty much only offend people who allow themselves to be offended.

    • Exactly. The WBC is like a lone mosquito buzzing about. Very annoying and might cause you some minor irritation, but in the long run nothing to put a ton of effort into catching. There are other groups out there that are much larger threats.

      That said, there are times when the WBC makes it very hard to be a defender of Freedom of Speech.

  • by Guido69 (513067) on Monday February 21, 2011 @10:23PM (#35275068) Homepage
    These "Anonymous" folks are all over this thread!

    p.s.... Just want to ensure Anonymous knows it was Taco, not us, that labeled you Cowards!
  • They can call themselves whatever they want, but Westboro Baptist Church is completely independant, and not associated with any known Baptist associations, and their actions and views are not shared or endorsed by any Baptist association or church. And as they promote certain political views from the pulpit, technically they cannot qualify for tax exemptions for being a church.

    In response to the article, quite frankly, I am actually surprised no one ever has DDoSed the site.

    In fact, I cannot even access the

  • FTA ". . . this was a publicity stunt staged by WBC themselves."

    "You did WHAT in my name?" -- Jesus

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