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Anonymous says Facebook attack was never real

Online activists say attacking a tool they use is not part of their plan and they point to lone rogue Anon.

illustration by James Martin/CNET

Don't worry Facebook users, the sky is not falling--you'll be able to update your status and post those Occupy Wall Street photos tomorrow.

Members of Anonymous fed up with reports that the online activist group is going to take down the social network said today that the threat is not real and was the work of one lone member without any support from others in the group. They said it doesn't make sense to shut down a site they use to get their message out.

"Anonymous is a movement we don't take kindly to when people try to (expletive) it up. Our movement relies on communicating with people around the world so we can help one another," a statement posted to Pastebin today said.

"One skiddy queer chap named Anthony [last name redacted] from the US in Ohio decided to take it upon himself to have some lulz with creating an imaginary opfacebook and pawning it off as a legit anon op," the statement said. "Despite us telling this mate several times we did not support his op, he continued to push his agenda for lulz. This op is phony but he continues to say it's an anon op."

The statement then provides an address, phone number, and other information ostensibly belonging to the individual named. (We've chosen not to include his last name in this post.)

"If you are against how we communicate on facebook, twitter, and anonops for example then you are against anonymous and become our enemy since you are trying to disrupt our movement," the statement says. "Because of this we decided to social the Opfacebook skiddy and hack him. Give this wanker a call and tell him what a piece of rubbish he is."

A woman who answered the phone number listed in the statement said Anthony was not there and wasn't involved with Anonymous. No doubt she'll be getting a lot of prank calls this weekend.

Anonymous sources and people familiar with the group have previously told CNET that the campaign against Facebook was the work of a rogue member and not a legitimate threat.

This case brings up the difficulty of dealing with a movement that lacks leaders and whose members are all nameless and faceless. If Anonymous can be anyone and no one is identified then no one is accountable for anything and anyone can take an action in the name of Anonymous. Some kid in his parents house in Ohio can make a threat that causes a media frenzy and public panic for naught.

Meanwhile, some threats made by Anonymous members can pose all-too-real risks to human life. Members of Anonymous in Mexico canceled a threat against the Zetas drug cartel after the return of an Anonymous member who was kidnapped. The message that innocent people would die if Anonymous exposed any information on cartel associates also played a part in that decision.

Learning to pick your battles is wise.

Update November 5 at 11:56 a.m. PT: In an an-email exchange with CNET, Anthony said he did not launch OpFacebook; he merely created the OpFacebook page on Facebook and populated it with information from other sources. "I have been used as a scape goat, nothing more nor less," he said.

"About 10 months ago many pages were taken off of the site, without warning nor reason. After that there was much toil from Anonymous saying there was going to be an #Op for Facebook. In that time I created the page to keep people informed on what was really going on. I stayed on IRC channels, kept myself updated on other Anon pages, and was actually privately talked to over IRC by five people over a period of time (their names changed along with their IRC channels every chat) and those are the people I quoted most on the page," he wrote. "A few days ago I was given an Email from the 'lulz kitty KaptainMeow' saying they knew it was me behind the attack, and when I said it was not they only laughed and said I had one day to say the #Op was fake before they attacked me personally. Because I had the balls to go out of my way and provide people with information that I found about the #Op, I was used as a scape goat of sorts when Anonymous figured out they could not ACTUALLY take down Facebook."

He also confirmed that he is the man named by the statement, but said he no longer lives at the address that was disclosed.