A recently posted YouTube video claiming to represent Anonymous says the group is planning to shut down Facebook on January 28, and it is calling on the U.S. public to help it accomplish the goal. Other members of Anonymous have denied the claim.
The alleged Anonymous member who released the video asked people to download a tool, the same tool Anonymous used to take down the website of the Department of Justice (DOJ) last week. The tool, called the Low orbit Ion Cannon, may be used to shut down a target website by overloading it with access requests.
The video says: "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 doesn’t guarantee that our Internet rights will be upheld.” The video then says: “Would you like to become part of the greatest Internet protests and first official cyber war?...Operation Global Blackout is ongoing and everyone can be a part of it.”
VentureBeat reports that in the attack on DOJ last week, members of Anonymous tricked people to help them by providing links to LOIC which when clicked by an innocent bystander would send a rush of access requests to the target site. This time around, the alleged Anonymous member is asking people to knowingly help. The video says: "Anonymous needs the help of the people.”
The alleged Anonymous member, according to Mashable, needs the help of members of the public because Facebook operates from a large number of servers. According to Mashable, Facebook has at least 60,000 servers. The video says: “While it is true that Facebook has at least 60,000 servers, it is still possible to bring it down."
For the LOIC tool to be effective, it must be used at the same time by many people. The video says the time for the attack has been set at 12 a.m.(UTC) on January 28. The video asks people to look out for links that will appear on the Twitter handles of Anonymous members and click the links at the set time. Enough people clicking the links to the LOIC could send a rush of access requests to the Facebook servers that could overload the servers and force them to shutdown.
The video urges people to help, saying: “There is no way you can get caught. Hundreds of thousands of US citizens and those of the Anonymous idea will all be participating...This is your chance. Our chance. The fate of the Internet rests in your hands.”
Anonymous denies the video messagePCMag reports that another Anonymous member has said that the group has no intention of attacking Facebook. PCMag reports that a tweet from AnonOps Twitter account, which has "correctly announced attacked in the past" denied the attack saying: “Again we must say that we will not attack #Facebook! Again the mass media lie.”
An attack previously announced as set for November 5 also failed to happen after other Anonymous members denied the authenticity of the announcement. Anonymous, however, claimed credit for shutting down DOJ and websites of some music studios.
The proposed November attack was said to be in protest of Facebook's privacy policies. The proposed January 28 attack was claimed to be because Facebook supports the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
The Washington Post, however, says that Facebook really has been an opponent of the SOPA and PIPA bills. Mashable reports Facebook chief executive was slow in voicing his opposition to SOPA and PIPA. That fact might have been noticed in some quarters hostile to the acts.
The Washington Post reports that prominent Anonymous Twitter accounts have recently been focusing on opposition to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a European copyright infringement treaty critics say amounts to internet censorship.