""We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.""
- – -The iconic Anonymous quote
Anonymous is the default username on 4chan. Anyone not providing a name and not using a tripcode can be said to be part of Anonymous. This is why 4chan users refer to each other as "Anon" when they aren't using "-fag". In more famous terms, Anonymous is the name that hacker groups, activist movements, and hacktivist group movements all originating on 4chan use to hide behind.
Due to the media unable to grasp internet culture, Anonymous has been propped up as some kind of "hive mind" or "superconciousness", made up by a secret cabal of internet hackers and trolls, who enforce the will of the masses throughout the internet, for better or worse (this is mainly the reason why the "Expect us" quote became popular with people who don't know any better, despite it being a joke).
In reality, Anonymous is more of a scattered mob of nomadic individuals banding together due to either necessity or shared interest, while inhabiting a blasted hellscape where reason goes to die where everyone's main purpose is to fight eachother and indulge in themselves for eternity, only coming together and going out into the normal world, once someone proposes something interesting to do and convinces a good chunk of these marauding warbands to come together for a single purpose, before slowly losing steam once their original plan has been met and everyone else fucking off to do their own thing. The cycle repeats for eternity (although to a lesser extent now as Anonymous is mostly too fragmented and indifferent these days).
Its important to know that actual anons who inhabit 4chan (and all other non-pretentious chans) never really use "Anonymous", as some sort of important title or think it entitles them to some super-secret membership to an underground consortium controlling the world from behind the scenes. Only the people who are too dense to get anonymous' original intent still thinks this, although a wide variety of different individuals and groups used this popular image for propaganda of various effectiveness for various viewpoints. During the Bush and early Obama administrations, these were often vaguely left-wing or perhaps "left-libertarian." When the more /pol/-minded started to take over Internet culture in a serious way, Anonymous was a very dead meme, even though the involved demographic (in common between those who were involved in "Anonymous" actions and the more recent rightward shift of imageboard culture, although over this time basically a whole generation grew up) is probably not all that different. It was never about a political identity as such but rather about random individuals being able to meme up random shit that other people would latch on to giving it momentum. This tends to be on the countercultural or contrarian side but really is not and cannot be in any real sense ideological. As far as everyone's concerned, everyone's an anon and people want to become anons because they want to air out themselves without fear of being identified by people they know, or simply because its easier to communicate with people when everyone's a blank slate (considering most people on 4chin are shut-in socially-inept NEETs, being able to talk without fear of being judged allows them to more easily talk with other strangers).
In their first major action, at least the only one anyone gives a shit about, they made news headlines for their Project Chanology protests against Scientology's attempt to abuse copyright laws to have a bunch of Anonymous's favorite YouTube videos about Tom Cruise taken down. In retaliation, Anonymous:
- bombarded the "church"'s website
- redirected Google search so that Scientology shows up at the top for results of "dangerous cults"
- and took up the Guy Fawkes mask as their symbol for a bunch of in-person protests in front of the "church" where they would expose a bunch of stuff that the "church" really doesn't want people shouting aloud in the middle of New York City.
- For those wondering, the Guy Fawkes mask is simultaneously a reference to V for Vendetta, where the protagonist V uses it to maintain his anonymity, and Epic Fail Guy, an old, old OLD /b/ character who found a Guy Fawkes mask in the trash.
This action earned them global fame. And honestly? Well done! (info needed)
Relevance to /tg/
In modern days, trying to be a real-life vigilante more often lands you in jail than make you a hero. Anonymous' ideals are vigilante-ish, but their MO skirts the fine line of law, just like fantasy mercs. Whether as people to be admired or a nice group to model your modern-day rpg pc on, Anonymous is suitable.