Did It for Orlando: ISIS Twitter Sites Hacked To Support Gay Pride
While nothing can alleviate the pain of families and friends who lost loved ones during the June 12th mass shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse, the hacker group Anonymous is retaliating against terror and showing support for LGBTQ community in its own unique way.
The hacker collective took over several social media accounts managed by the terrorist group ISIS and its supporters, replacing images of bloodshed and violence with rainbows and affirmations of gay pride.
"I did it for the lives lost in Orlando," a hacker who goes by the online handle WauchulaGhost and is connected to Anonymous told Newsweek. "Daesh [ISIS] have been spreading and praising the attack, so I thought I would defend those that were lost. The taking of innocent lives will not be tolerated."
Hundreds of Accounts Attacked
According to news reports, WauchulaGhost has successfully attacked hundreds of Twitter accounts belonging to ISIS groups around the world, although some have since been taken down. Still, at least two other hackers are getting in on the act with their own attacks.
WauchulaGhost was quick to point out that his digital vandalism attempts did not include graphic pornography, although some other hack-attacks did, and that they had no desire to offend or humiliate Muslims in general. "Our actions are directed at Jihadist extremists. Many of our own [group of hackers] are Muslim and we respect all religions that do not take innocent lives," WauchulaGhost told Newsweek.
In addition to adding gay pride flags and messages to their Twitter pages, the hacker told the Huffington Post that he also messages followers of the accounts directly in order to foster relationships with pro-ISIS users, only to inform them later that they had been talking to a hacker the entire time. The goal, WauchulaGhost said, was to sow confusion among the jihadi community.
But the main goal, WauchulaGhost said, was to take away the terrorists' weapons of fear and propaganda through humor and humiliation. "By taking their accounts and replacing the images and tweeting from those accounts, we are taking that fear away," the hacker told the Huffington Post.
Although WauchulaGhost's attacks have taken on a renewed importance in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, hacktivists have been going after the terrorist group for the last two months by spamming their Twitter accounts, in some cases with pornographic imagery.
The man suspected of carrying out the worst mass shooting in US history, Omar Mateen, had voiced support for ISIS both before and during the attack, suggesting that he saw his actions as part of the terrorist group's larger mission.
In the early hours of June 12, Mateen killed roughly 50 people, and injured some 50 more at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that he had previously scoped out for the attack. His statements made in calls to 911 and a TV station during the attack left no doubt that he was sympathetic to fellow terrorists.
For its part, Twitter has condemned the use of its service as a platform for espousing terrorism. Twitter execs say they have shut down tens of thousands of accounts found to be in violation of its terms of service. Nevertheless, with ISIS and their followers able to open new accounts in only a few minutes, hacktivists like WauchulaGhost are likely to have plenty of targets in the future.
Image Credit: Screenshot via WauchulaGhost/Twitter