A Twitter account belonging to the anarchic hacktivist collective Anonymous appears to have been hacked by a little-known rival group known as the Rustle League. The account @Anon_Central, which normally posts news related to Anonymous’ pet causes, was vandalized in an effort to “troll” the group.
BBC News reported on the hack Thursday night, but the news agency did not provide any information on what the Rustle League posted. Given that the hacker collective’s website is at the address nazif--.com and one member created the #cutforBeiber meme, we can bet it wasn’t pretty.
This isn’t the first time the Rustle League has targeted Anonymous. In the past, the group hacked into the Twitter account @YourAnonNews and posted the Internet’s most infamous shock porn image, goatse, about 30 times. (If you’re curious -- and you shouldn’t be -- goatse is pretty gross: Don’t Google it.)
Although most Twitter account hacking is done out of malice, Rustle League members who spoke to Vice's Motherboard claimed they are operating out of a spirit of playfulness. Dumb, incredibly offensive playfulness, but playfulness nonetheless. Essentially, they wanted to post over-the-top, offensive content as an effort to get the media interested. Clearly, it worked.
The Rustle League’s name is a reference to an image macro widely circulated on 4chan and Reddit featuring an angry-looking gorilla with the caption, “That really rustled my jimmies.” It’s widely used as a response to trolls online -- people who post deliberately offensive, shocking, or misleading content online to get a rise out of other users. Ultimately, the hacker group doesn’t want to take down Anonymous -- it wants to rustle our collective jimmies.
“Often we [trolls] rely on the ignorance of the media itself to propagate our messages,” the Rustle League member going by the name of Jihad told Vice. “When the lights went out at the Super Bowl, the Rustle League tweeted, taking responsibility and linking an obviously fake picture of the "control panel" used to 'LYKE OMG HAX0R THE NFL GIBSON.' It wasn't long before that information was up on various news websites and blogs.”
Jihad later called journalism like this “lazy” and “selling ignorance.”
So how did Anonymous fall prey to hacking itself? According to BBC News' reporting, it was hacked because of poor password practices. However, that may not be entirely accurate.
"The reason Anonymous fell victim is probably human weakness," Graham Cluley, senior consultant at security firm Sophos, told BBC News.
Cluley may be right, but in an entirely different way. On Friday night, Vice posted an update of its story, saying that the owners of @Anon_Central were claiming to be in on it the whole time, and that the “hacking” was a collaborated joke.
So it appears both organizations may simply be in it for the lulz.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.