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The Curious Case of Anonymous, fake news and the fall of a neo-Nazi group

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There are some news on the internet that are hard to confirm, today more than ever. Others however, like the tragedy that befell a woman in Virginia last week during a far-right rally, are not.

Heather Heyer,  32-year-old, was a legal assistant with a law firm who repeatedly championed civil rights issues on social media. She was brutally run over by a car driving into a group of people protesting against the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

The events connected with the rally have rippled through the internet, sparking debate and causing several parties to move.

Among them, the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer published a greatly offensive article about the victim on Sunday, with a listicle of facts aimed at insulting her memory.

The internet responded heavily.

Almost in response to the last Tweet above, something happened last night. Upon waking up today, people who, outraged, went to the extremist website to protest could see a new post, allegedly left by the infamous hacking group Anonymous.

The post stated that the website had been taken over in Heyer’s name, stating she was a “victim of white supremacist terrorism”.

“For too long the Daily Stormer and Andrew Anglin have spewed their putrid hate on this site,” it said. “This evil cannot be allowed to stand. It took a united force of elite hackers from around the world to breach the systems and the firewall.

“The events of Charlottesville alerted us to the need for immediate action. We want you Nazis to know: your time is short.”

The immediate response of the public was then one of relief. Justice was being executed against these ruthless extremists, and their website was going to be taken down soon.

However, something did not add up.

The Anonymous official Twitter account did not claim responsibility for the attack. Anonymous is a fragmented group on the internet, with its members often acting independently from one another in order to reach the same goal.

In this particular case though, no confirm was issued by the hacking group. On the contrary, a tweet from them claimed the post could be a stunt organised by the Daily Stormer itself.

But why would they do that?

The answer is fairly simple. Following the horrific article about Mrs Heyer, GoDaddy, the website hosting provider, announced that Anglin had violated its terms of use and that his website was going to be taken down in 24 hours.

The stunt would have therefore be pulled by the Daily Stormer to get as more coverage as possible before being shut down.

Anonymous' answer to that was predictable, but it summarised quite well what the internet thought on the matter.

Whatever the truth is, another piece of extremism is being eradicated from the internet today, and despite the bad the publication has done in the past, this is undoubtedly good news.

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