However this may not always be the case, as some of the collective prefer to instead cover their face without using the well-known mask as a disguise.
In its early form, the concept was adopted by a decentralized online community acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment, or often referred to as "lulz".
The concept of the Anonymous entity advanced in 2004 when an administrator on the 4chan image board activated a "Forced_Anon" protocol that signed all posts as Anonymous.
In a raid on July 12, 2006, for example, large numbers of 4chan readers invaded the Finnish social networking site Habbo Hotel with identical avatars; the avatars blocked regular Habbo members from accessing the digital hotel's pool, stating it was "closed due to fail and AIDS".
These raids resulted in the first mainstream press story on Anonymous, a report by Fox station KTTV in Los Angeles, California in the U. The report called the group "hackers on steroids", "domestic terrorists", and an "Internet hate machine".
Anons were early supporters of the global Occupy movement and the Arab Spring. It is a crowd of people, a nebulous crowd of people, working together and doing things together for various purposes." Brian Kelly writes that three of the group's key characteristics are "(1) an unrelenting moral stance on issues and rights, regardless of direct provocation; (2) a physical presence that accompanies online hacking activity; and (3) a distinctive brand." Quinn Norton of Wired writes that "Anons lie when they have no reason to lie.
We [Anonymous] just happen to be a group of people on the Internet who need—just kind of an outlet to do as we wish, that we wouldn't be able to do in regular society. They weave vast fabrications as a form of performance.
Dozens of people have been arrested for involvement in Anonymous cyberattacks, in countries including the US, UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, India and Turkey.
Evaluations of the group's actions and effectiveness vary widely.
Beginning with 2008's Project Chanology—a series of protests, pranks, and hacks targeting the Church of Scientology—the Anonymous collective became increasingly associated with collaborative hacktivism on a number of issues internationally.
Individuals claiming to align themselves with Anonymous undertook protests and other actions (including direct action) in retaliation against copyright-focused campaigns by motion picture and recording industry trade associations.
Anons have publicly supported Wiki Leaks and the Occupy movement.
Related groups Lulz Sec and Operation Anti Sec carried out cyberattacks on U. government agencies, media, video game companies, military contractors, military personnel, and police officers, resulting in the attention of law enforcement to the groups' activities.
Gabriella Coleman writes of the group, "In some ways, it may be impossible to gauge the intent and motive of thousands of participants, many of who don't even bother to leave a trace of their thoughts, motivations, and reactions. There's a common phrase: 'we are doing it for the lulz.' Because Anonymous has no leadership, no action can be attributed to the membership as a whole.