If there’s one thing that Anonymous would really, really like the internet to know about its plans, it’s this: They’re not going to take down Facebook, no matter how many times people say the opposite.
A video titled “Anonymous Message on How YOU Can Be Part Of #OpGlobalBlackout FACEBOOK ATTACK 12AM EST” appeared on YouTube early Monday, claiming to offer viewers the chance to become “part of the greatest internet protest and first official cyber war” by helping to take down Mark Zuckerberg’s uber-popular social network.
The accompanying description explained that “an online War has begun between anonymous, the people, and the government of the united states. While SOPA and PIPA may be postponed from congress, this does not guarantee that our internet rights will be upheld. For those unaware, there is still ACTA or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement,” adding, “Hundreds of thousands of us citizens and those of the anonymous idea will all be participating” in an attack on Facebook’s various servers at 12am EST January 28.
The problem with this announcement? It doesn’t seem to have actually come from Anonymous.
Within hours of the video’s posting, a confirmed “official” Anonymous Twitter account, @AnonOps announced “Again we must say that we will not attack #Facebook! Again the mass media lie.” For those keeping track, this is the second time in the last few months that someone has claimed to be from Anonymous when announcing a future attack on Facebook, only to be debunked by Anonymous itself soon after.
It’s perhaps less a case of the mass media lying, than the mass media getting very excited and confused by the purposeful decentralization and lack of recognizable face to trust with such potentially important announcements.
Whatever the reason for the apparent hoax, it certainly was well-timed. With the day-long blackout of Wikipedia, Reddit and other sites to protest SOPA/PIPA still fresh in memory, the idea of a Facebook-less internet is easily imaginable. And such an event happening as the result of an Anonymous operation is far more believable than usual considering Anonymous’ recent activity. Not that Anonymous likely cares too much: Their attentions are currently directed towards protesting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
Disclosure: TIME Inc. parent company Time Warner supports SOPA legislation.
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.