Anonymous’s “war” on Isis is leading to innocent people being wrongly reported as members of the militant group.
The 'hacktivist' network launched an operation to identify and shut down the accounts of Islamic extremists in the wake of the attacks in Paris, but people who are not affiliated to Isis appear to have been identified as part of the group, according to reports on social media.
At least one person identified was correctly identified as part of the operation. But the Anonymous-affiliated user who first reported his identity has reversed the claim, after criticism that details being shared on Twitter was incorrect and that the person identified was not involved with the group.
The site claims it has found and shut down more than 5,500 Isis Twitter accounts. In line with previous operations — including one launched in the wake of Charlie Hebdo — the group is largely working to find accounts on Twitter and then have them suspended by reporting them to the network.
Anonymous has previously appeared to have problems with its verification processes, including in a recent high-profile operation against the Ku Klux Klan. Activists affiliated with Anonymous leaked a supposed list of members of the group, but many of the identities on there appeared not to be genuine.
People affiliated with the group also wrongly identified a person that it claimed was the police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson. It had, in fact, named another police officer who didn’t work as part of the local force, and his family were reportedly forced into hiding.
A person who claims to be behind the Operation Paris account told the BBC that those involved in the operation “run effective verification of intel (intelligence), and make sure that our leads are legitimate before we attack them”.
“In some cases, they could be sympathisers or followers that republish horrifying display,” the man, whose name is unknown, said.
“We guarantee that we are not making false accusations to those who aren't actually involved.”
The group has also drawn criticism from other hacktivists. The Jester, an anonymous online hacker, said the group’s efforts were unlikely to amount to much.
"It's the usual case of Anonymous jumping on a current big news story," he told Tech Insider.
"It'll amount to a hill of beans like always."
The Jester has taken on those behind the “OpParis” Twitter account, which has served as a repository and broadcast platform for much of the information about suspected extremists that is being shared.
The Jester claimed the original video was likely uploaded as a stunt in itself, and that the group was forced to try and make an impact on Twitter as a way of backing up the claims in the video.
The hacker has also claimed in the past that Anonymous itself has been used by Isis and other terror movements as a way of furthering their reach online.
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