In a message posted on YouTube, someone claiming to be a member of the hacker group Anonymous announced that the group plans to destroy Facebook on Nov. 5.

The video message goes on to say that, “If you are a willing hacktivist or a guy who just wants to protect the freedom of information, then join the cause and kill Facebook for the sake of your own privacy.”

The message goes on to explain the reason for the attack: “Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world.”

The statement did not provide any evidence of its assertions though several of Facebook’s board members are rumored to have strong ties to the intelligence community. Jim Breyer, for example, is linked to In-Q-Tel, described by the Guardian as “the venture-capital wing of the CIA.” Peter Thiel, another board member, was also a founder of Palantir (which received funding from In-Q-Tel), which collects information online for use by the government.

Palantir CEO Alex Karp says that Palantir’s innovation is that, “We’ve found a way to tag information so the only people who can see it are those who are allowed to see it,” but this has still raised eyebrows among internet privacy activists such as Fred Cate, the director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University. He says, “Right now it is perfectly legal, without question, for the government to collect every telephone call, every e-mail, every communication in the world—as long as it can claim credibly some part of the communication contains a person outside the United States.”

The Anonymous announcement goes on to say that, “Some of these so-called whitehat infosec firms are working for authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria.” In other words, even if government restrictions in the U.S. prohibit them from spying on citizens, no such restrictions exist in these companies’ private dealings with foreign regimes.

Some observers have questioned whether the video is just an elaborate hoax, and whether the speaker actually represents Anonymous. They point out that the YouTube user, known as FacebookOp, has posted on that one video since joining YouTube three weeks ago, on July 16. Time Magazine points out that the video has not been referenced by any of Anonymous’s established modes of communication, including various websites and Twitter accounts, and says that the quality is not on par with other Anonymous missives. The article goes on to cite Eugene Kapersky of Kapersky Labs security firm that the message is indeed a hoax.

But this assumes that one person can speak for Anonymous as a group, whereas the recent LulzSec episode showed that Anonymous is really just a loose consortium of hackers who operate independently. As one Twitter account stated, “No one can speak for the whole of #Anonymous. There are some anons who support #OpFacebook whilst others do not.”

Bill Brenner of CSO Security and Risks questions whether Anonymous or some subgroup of Anonymous has the strength to take down Facebook. Last December’s planned distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against was largely considered to be a failure.

But the operation does have its supporters. Even Brenner recognizes the truth behind the video’s assertion that, “Facebook knows more about you than your family,” though he says, “Forgotten is the fact that people on Facebook willingly give up their privacy.” He does not comment on whether most Facebook users understand the consequences of this.

The video could be a hoax, but it could also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. One thing, however, is fairly certain. This is not what Facebook intended when it announced the Hacker Cup. November 5, Guy Fawkes’ Day, could be very interesting.

Read More at NBC Bay Area
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