They’re known as Anonymous, but they’re certainly not unanimous.
The decentralized Web network — considered either transparency watchdogs or tech terrorists, depending on your perspective — has made headlines recently over members’ alleged hacks of major corporations.
Last week, an FBI raid resulted in the arrests of 14 people connected to the “hacktivist” movement, including residents of Brooklyn and Long Island.
Anonymous and its loosely affiliated groups have taken credit for infiltrating corporate websites like Monsanto and Sony, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
But not all Anonymous members believe in hacking, members of NYCAnon, a New York City chapter, told Metro.
“Hacking doesn’t accomplish anything,” said Mike Vitale, 26, a network administrator from Flushing. “It doesn’t send a message; it just gets more people arrested in the name of Anonymous.”
Rather than targeting NATO or MasterCard like some Anonymous members, NYCAnon attempts to call attention to organizations that they say are abusive. Using Anonymous’ Internet forums, they organize “raids” — or protests — against the Church of Scientology, Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists, Black Hebrew Israelites and the Westboro Baptist Church.
"These groups have a history of victimizing innocent people, so we turn it around and do it to them," said Vitale. "We try to be clever; it's like a [comedy] roast."
Humor and vulgarity are just as much an essential part of Anonymous's culture as civil disobedience is, the members said.
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"The hackers won't agree with our view of Anonymous and we don't agree with theirs," said "Ven," 21, a student from Brooklyn.
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro