You may have noticed a distinct lack of news stories about Fox News’ website or Facebook having been taken down this weekend or, for that matter, the release of a data dump identifying associates of the Mexican Los Zetas drug cartel. In fact, it’s safe to say that Anonymous’ three high profile operations announced for November 5th failed to occur – something that is, ironically, in keeping with the Guy Fawkes inspiration, considering he also failed to blow up the U.K. Houses of Parliament on November 5th. So what happened?
The lack of Facebook action is the easiest to explain away; that operation was already discounted as likely fake soon after it was announced, after all. It’s possible that Operation Fox Hunt was also fake, given that the website of Fox News seems to have been left entirely untouched by potential hacks over the past weekend, but that might also be down to superior security behind the scenes and/or Anonymous simply losing interest between announcing the operation and the November 5th date.
Something that didn’t just disappear quietly was Operation Cartel; cancelled amid fears of retaliation, then un-canceled soon after, the operation against Los Zetas was cancelled a second time when it had appeared to achieve its goal: the release of an Anonymous member, who had been kidnapped months earlier, was announced just days prior to the announced date of the operation. Which should count as a victory, except for the fact that there are some who don’t think the kidnapping actually ever happened, and that the entire operation was a publicity stunt by former Anonymous public spokesman Barrett Brown, who just so happens to be writing an “insider book” on Anonymous, for which he’s received a six-figure amount for Amazon.com.
The disappointment over the lack of November 5th activity shouldn’t come as a complete surprise; Anonymous had previously announced a ‘Day of Vengeance’ for September 24, only for that day to pass without incident. But Anonymous shouldn’t be mistaken for some harmless group that achieves nothing; in addition to the ongoing Operation Darknet war against child pornographers, the group also claims to have spent the weekend actually attacking Israeli government websites and has since declared war against the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, calling the organization “a threat to the revolution Egyptians had fought for, some with their lives.”
So, were the Facebook and Fox News operations a distraction from larger scale plans being laid? Were they proof that Anonymous’ structure is perhaps too free, allowing for operations to be announced that others had no knowledge of, or interest in pursuing? Or just events that didn’t come to pass for reasons too mundane to even care about? Like almost everything else about Anonymous, it’s unknown – and, perhaps, from the point of view of those behind the organization, that type of confusion is kind of the point.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.