Accusations of group membership can be damaging, even if they are untrue. The above video is from a group claiming the mantle of the hacktivist group Anonymous. In it, they announce their intent to release the names and addresses of reported members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) on November 5 that they seized from webservers and Twitter accounts belonging to the KKK.
“You are legally free to live and be any which way you choose to live and be. Keep in mind, it is not illegal nor oppressive to hurt your feelings. With that said – We are stripping you of your anonymity. Again. This is our protected speech.” (Emphasis added)
This is not the first time a group claiming to be Anonymous has targeted the KKK. Previously, a group hijacked the KKK’s Twitter account and released personal information of a leading member of the KKK. This time, in a press release dubbing the release Operation KKK, the group claims the KKK’s threats to use lethal force during the Ferguson protests in 2014 as its motivation behind the data release.
In a twist of the story, there has been an early release on Pastebin (which we will not link to) that purportedly names mayors, members of Congress and police officers. However the accuracy of this and similar other lists has been called into question. These lists have included information such as phone numbers, email addresses and spousal information of the alleged KKK members.
Among the expected denials by various politicians is that of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. In a Facebook response, she explained that her inclusion in the list does not make any sense. She is a part of an interracial family, has launched initiatives to reduce racial violence and has pushed for LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual) rights.
In fact, the Anonymous group behind Operation KKK has denied the current list on Pastebin as being from them.
Regardless of the authenticity, the publication of this information is problematic. As demonstrated with the recent takeover of CIA Director John Brennan’s Verizon and email accounts, a tiny amount of information made public, such as a phone number, can lead to a severe consequences for the individual. Likewise, accused membership in a white supremacy group creates a situation where it becomes probable that the information will be used for no good.