Hacking Group Anonymous Launches Citizen Journalism Website
April 18, 2013

Hacking Group Anonymous Launches Citizen Journalism Website

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

International hacktivist group Anonymous is looking to go legit — at least with the way it looks to share news and information. The controversial hacking collective has launched a website for crowd-sourced news.

The group has announced Your Anon News (or YAN), named after the group´s Twitter handle. The news venture looks to move some of the group´s content away from its Twitter and Tumblr feeds, where Anonymous has traditionally made announcements and linked to articles.

Anonymous also took the crowd-sourcing path to raise funds for the venture, and went to Indiegogo, where it raised $54,668, far outpacing its initial goal.

The group originally sought out to raise just $2,000, but greatly exceeded those goals, as more than 1,000 people contributed to the fund. As with other Indiegogo and crowd-funding ventures, those who donated were rewarded with various items — in this case Anonymous memorabilia including mugs, t-shirts and hoodies.

The money was collected via Indiegogo via the account name “Jackal Anon.” The money will reportedly be used for development and hosting fees. It isn´t clear whether this new crowd-sourcing venture would actually build towards paying reporters for original stories, or whether it would rely solely on volunteer “citizen journalist”-style reporting.

As Anonymous still exists very much as a decentralized network with what is often described as “anarchic identity,” it is still very unclear who exactly runs the show. This could make working as a legitimate news organization tricky.

The campaign video on the Indiegogo campaign site noted that volunteer programmers and designers will do much of the building, while funding will be utilized to provide the initial hosting. As noted, the goal is to move beyond disseminating news through Twitter and Tumblr.

However, the group did utilize its Tumblr feed to share some thoughts about this venture.

“Over the past two years Your Anon News (YAN) has been many things to many people and has continuously evolved under the guidance of numerous contributors. Since our humble beginnings as new account we have always resisted being held to the constraints placed upon mainstream media outlets, but were limited to the tools availible to us via Twitter and Tumblr. Those of us contributing to YAN have always desired to expand our capabilities and to report, not just aggregate, the news,” the group wrote on its Tumblr account and via the Indiegogo site.

One other outstanding question is whether the group´s news site could be described as “unbiased?” While no one expects it be up to the standards of all the news fit to print, the question is whether it could even be trusted.

“I think it is highly likely to be biased,” Prof. Alan Woodward, a cyber security expert at the University of Surrey told the BBC on Thursday. “The group have shown that they have a very particular political agenda, and so I can imagine this news feed will be on a par with a newspaper that has very obvious political leanings. The really obvious issue is that there is a lack of accountability. With an organization that is by definition ℠anonymous´ how can one trust that what is being promulgated is accurate?”