The moral universe of Anonymous

by Emma Teitel

The hacktivist group, Anonymous, is known for vigilante justice—or hooliganism, depending on who you ask—but its role in the enormous public backlash to Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons’ tragic death last week is not so black and white. When Amanda Todd took her own life after merciless cyber-bullying last year, Anonymous implicated B.C. resident Kody Maxson — later widely reported to be the wrong man. Maxson says he received over 50 death threats after the hacktivist group spread his name around the web, accusing him of tormenting Todd.

This time around, however, Anonymous appears more strategic, probably because whomever wears the mask in Nova Scotia is not the same person(s) who slandered Maxson in British Columbia. This Anonymous hasn’t used vigilante justice to expose Parsons’ alleged rapists. It’s used the threat of vigilante justice to move the authorities to action. If the RCMP doesn’t act fast, in other words, Anonymous claims it will release the names of Parsons’ alleged rapists. [Editor's note: RCMP have since announced that they have reopened their investigation.] The group says it has obtained an actual confession from one of the boys involved in the alleged rape. Excerpts from the group’s most recent statement, below:

  A 17-year-old girl killed herself because the police failed to do their jobs…

We do not seek vigilante justice. If those who we believe are guilty are exonerated in a court of law, Anonymous will disappear from Nova Scotia.

Is it necessary for Anonymous to be involved in this case? Yes. For a moment lets set aside the theatrics, the masks and the labels. We are group of concerned citizens that have recognized an injustice in the system. We have taken it upon ourselves to point out that injustice to the public and we are asking the police to correct their incompetent handling of this case–a young girl has already died from it.

Robin Hood doesn’t usually work with the Sheriff of Nottingham. This is, in my view, a much more sophisticated, socially conscious, breed of Anonymous. Not everyone would agree, however. This afternoon I heard from a Halifax man in his twenties who is a friend of one of Parsons’ alleged rapists. He wishes to remain anonymous (in the traditional sense of the word). He believes Anonymous is doing “the right thing, the wrong way.” He is concerned that innocent people will be implicated in the group’s search for justice. “This is the problem with people taking it into their own hands,” he says. “Now their [those implicated] lives are at risk.” He says that his friend received threats prior to Anonymous’ public statements, “but nothing in comparison to now.” It hasn’t been easy for him, either: He’s received emails from friends and acquaintances on Facebook suggesting he is “defending rapists.” He even went so far as to compare the actions of Anonymous to cyber-bullying itself.

Whatever your thoughts on cyber vigilantism, there is no question that the actions of the person(s) behind Anonymous in this particular case has jump-started a remarkably stalled justice system. The RCMP is of course propelled to act because of public outrage, but the hacktivists’ blackmailing has given them a firm deadline. When tragedies like these occur, people want answers, and they want them fast. Right or wrong, Anonymous delivers.




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The moral universe of Anonymous

  1. Ironically, should someone die from having been named by Anonymous, far more resources will go into finding Anonymous than the rapists.

  2. Counting all the risks, and taking into account the possibility of serious vigilantism taking place and all sorts of problems, let’s get back to the rape and subsequent death issue. Why don’t these rapists admit their crime, and why don’t people expose them. This isn’t about anonymous, this is about a serious crime committed and the people that refuse to help to do anything about it. At least anonymous exposed the police and got them off their butts to do something. Okay Kids get out there and expose these rapists and the child pornographers in your midst. Hold yourselves accountable and then grow up

    • yes, because what is the role of the parents here?

  3. A couple of thoughts to share on a Saturday morning:
    1) Online extortion is a better term than cyber bullying.
    2) Kody Maxson could still be the creep that extorted and stalked Amanda Todd. Just because his innocence is “widely reported” doesn’t mean Anonymous got it wrong. If he is, indeed, the Kody from Canada/BC mentioned in the Daily Capper videos, then he has done similar things to other girls too. And, I would guess, probably will again.
    3) And now for something completely out of left field: What will the public reaction be if one of the alleged rapists commits suicide because his name is being/has been released?

    • Kody Maxson is totally innocent – unlike Amanda Todd, who made up the ‘stalker’ story to cover her actions. You really make all of this up. There is no evidence AT ALL to link him with Amanda. Oh – and how come Amanda had MANY videos of her naked, and continued on after the cops arrived Dec 23rd 2010? But she says it was just one photo. Get a grip. Nearly all of what Amanda said in her video is lies.

  4. From what I understand, there is a warrant for the arrest of Kody Maxson, partly for sexual offences against a minor (http://www.dailydot.com/news/kody-maxson-amanda-todd-warrant-issued/). He was also a member of a pedophile ring that engaged in sexual extortion of minors. So, honestly, I don’t understand the criticism of Anonymous for this one. Even if they named the wrong person, and I’m not sure they did, it’s the equivalent of the police looking for a murderer and discovering a rapist. I’m fine with them making mistakes like that. I find it much more problematic that the police reacted so slowly to the Anon announcement that Maxson had the time to erase his trail.

    • You absolute dimwit. Kody Maxson was never involved – he was chucked under the bus by a /b/ moderator. Amanda’s videos went viral because she and her friend blabbed at school – she basically says so in screen caps from Dec 5th 2010. But think this – why, if the cops went round December 23rd, did she keep going naked for another 12 months? Kody is an idiot – he will be in court July this year for THEFT. The other charges have gone. Now you’ll tell me he is 30 years old. LOL

      • 52 posts, all of which pertain to the Amanda Todd case or general cases on cyber bullying.

        • Oh Lord! Give this guy a prize! Try my blog – just google ‘Philip Rose Amanda’ – and you’ll see that most of the story is utter crap. Laters!

        • Are you speaking from facts which you’ve gathered, or is this just insinuation on your part? I’m very curious to know why you wrote this? Things are still murky even after more than a year.

        • Do you have facts to back this up or is this just an insinuation on your part? I am very interested in what you may know since this story is still murky even after more than a year past.

          • Excuse the double comment.

  5. where were the responsible adults, when this happened. They should be held responsible, the parents

    • The mother will, eventually, go down in history as one of the worst mothers ever.

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