First up was Jester, self-styled ‘hacktivist for good.’ His usual targets are extreme muslim websites, and Anonymous. But on Friday a particularly nasty tweet from @z0mb13d, in line with WBC philosophy, got his attention and ire. He wasn’t willing to simply wait for Twitter to suspend the account, and decided to go after the person behind the account. “@z0mb13d I have a very particular set of skills acquired over a long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like u,” he tweeted.
He apparently analyzed @z0mb13d’s followers and found a correlation with a gaming group on Steam. “An hour later, the Jester had linked the offensive account to an Indiana college student who worked at Dairy Queen and liked the horror-rap group Insane Clown Posse — and @z0mb13d had been suspended by Twitter,” reported TechNews Daily yesterday. “Soon afterwards, the Jester posted another tweet: "#WBC #Westboro baptist church site .godhatesfags.com — seems to be experiencing 'technical difficulties’.”
This latter tweet caused suspicion that Jester had taken down the WBC website (it is, incidentally, still down as this report is written). But this wasn’t Jester, this was Anonymous. Anonymous has a long-standing dislike of WBC. Last year a war of words between the two ended with Anonymous hacking a WBC server ‘on air.’ “One Anonymous member, who agreed to a live radio interview on Thursday with a WBC spokeswoman, spontaneously hacked one of the Church's websites while on-air,” reported the Huff Post.
In response to WBC’s threat to picket the Sandy Hook funerals, Anonymous has reposted personal information on the organization’s members – and now (presumably) taken down their website after posting a warning video on Vimeo, “We are coming.”
There is some irony in Anonymous attacking WBC when one of the collective’s prime motivations is freedom on the internet. “Part of living in America means putting up with words with which you not only disagree but that offend deeply. This is especially true when, as in the Westboro Baptist Church case, the words actually carry a political message,” wrote Gabe Rottman on CNN in August. It is perhaps in recognition of this that Anonymous seems to be behind, and is certainly promoting, a new petition on We the People: Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group. Started on 14 December, it had at the time of writing, passed 90,000 signatures.
A separate petition also started on 14 December, “Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress,” currently stands at close to 140,000 signatures.
Meanwhile, don’t expect any future collaboration between Jester and Anonymous. “The apparent co-operation between myself & #Anonymous on #WBC is an eclipse, we're still Sun and Moon, with our own agendas,” he tweeted yesterday.