An international hacker group known has Anonymous has released a statement declaring that they will destroy Facebook on November 5th, 2011.  The hacker group claims that Facebook has been stealing your personal information and selling it to corporations, government organizations, and advertisers.  Although Facebook denies these allegations, Anonymous claims they will show proof in the coming months.

NOTE: Before reading any further, I in no way support the actions of Anonymous.  I am merely giving background and asking questions about the consequences of their actions.  Although most of the claims made are unsubstantiated, a few points  brought up by Anonymous are interesting.

Anonymous is best known for attacking the technology security company, HBGary, and releasing thousands of incriminating emails.  The hacker group also made headlines when they repeatedly aided protesters in several countries during the Arab Spring Revolutions.  Anonymous, brought down government websites in Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia and released government officials email account passwords and logins.  You can find more information about Anonymous on Wikipedia.

Another thing to note about Anonymous is that their is no central authority within the organization.  If you are tech-savvy and wish to hack websites under the name Anonymous, then you are part of Anonymous.

Now on to the video that was recently released against Facebook:

Most claims Anonymous make in the video are unsubstantiated.  However they do bring up a few good points:

Firstly, they mention that you cannot delete your Facebook account, even if you... delete your Facebook account.  If you haven't tried to remove a personal Facebook page from the site, it is quite difficult and confusing.  You cannot simply click a button and delete your account.  Oh no, that is too easy!

First you need to discern the difference between deactivating your account and deleting it.  Deactivating your account will, simply put, make you unsearchable to other Facebook users.  All of your account information will remain on the Facebook servers in case you choose to reactivate your account sometime in the future.  The path to deactivate your account is a long one, that will eventually take you to this screen (almost as if your friends are guilt tripping you into staying on Facebook):

Deleting your profile is a whole other ball game.  It took me a few Google searches to discover how to delete your profile, followed by a few other searches into how to ACTUALLY delete your profile.  Let me explain, first you need to submit a request to Facebook asking to delete your profile.  After several confirmations, you will be put in a queue to have your profile deleted.  You must not log in to your Facebook account for 2 weeks or the request to delete your account will become null.  You must delete all of your browser history and cookies so that you don't accidentally request any information from Facebook.  And finally unlink all of your other web accounts from Facebook (YouTube, Twitter, etc.)

Why so difficult?  It's really simple to understand, Facebook's revenue depends on you.  If you leave they lose a person to sell advertising to.  Facebook takes advantage of the non-tech-savvy user during the deletion process.  It is drawn out and confusing and sometimes ends in just giving up.

Then, even after all that, Facebook states this about account deletion (proving the point that Anonymous made about what you put on Facebook, stays on Facebook):

Copies of some material (photos, notes, etc.) may remain in our servers for technical reasons, but this material is disassociated from any personal identifiers and completely inaccessible to other people using Facebook.


On the other side of the fence, Sophos security analyst Paul Ducklin points out that "Facebook only "knows" what you choose to tell it."  He goes on to explain this in his Naked Security Blog:

(It certainly is difficult to delete stuff from Facebook, and almost impossible to purge stuff from The Cloud in general. But the video's implication that Facebook deliberately keeps your data even when it actually claims to have removed it permanently is, in my opinion, both unfounded and unlikely.)

Apparently, then, it's morally wrong for Facebook to be "unforgetting", whilst for Anonymous, it is a badge of honour.

[naked security]

Finally here is the official manifesto that the group released about "Operation Facebook"

Operation Facebook

DATE : November 5, 2011
Press :
Twitter :!/OpFacebookIrc.Anonops.Li #OpFaceBook
Message :

Attention citizens of the world,

We wish to get your attention, hoping you heed the warnings as follows:Your  medium of communication you all so dearly adore will be destroyed. 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.

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.  Some of these so-called whitehat infosec firms are working for  authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria.

Everything  you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your "privacy"  settings, and deleting your account is impossible, even if you "delete"  your account, all your personal info stays on Facebook and can be  recovered at any time. Changing the privacy settings to make your  Facebook account more "private" is also a delusion. Facebook knows more  about you than your family.

You  cannot hide from the reality in which you, the people of the internet,  live in. Facebook is the opposite of the Antisec cause. You are not safe  from them nor from any government. One day you will look back on this  and realise what we have done here is right, you will thank the rulers  of the internet, we are not harming you but saving you.

The riots  are underway. It is not a battle over the future of privacy and  publicity. It is a battle for choice and informed consent. It's  unfolding because people are being raped, tickled, molested, and  confused into doing things where they don't understand the consequences.  Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is  completely false. It gives users the illusion of and hides the details  away from them "for their own good" while they then make millions off of  you. When a service is "free," it really means they're making money off  of you and your information.

Think for a while and prepare for a day that will go down in history. November 5 2011, #opfacebook . Engaged.

This  is our world now. We exist without nationality, without religious bias.  We have the right to not be surveilled, not be stalked, and not be used  for profit. We have the right to not live as slaves.

We are anonymous
We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
Expect us

[via Piratepad]

Will Anonymous go through with the attack?  Would you miss Facebook if this

I for one, find this to be more interesting than anything else.  The internet is the new Wild West, it is very loosely governed and can harbor criminals and vigilantes.  The inherent problem with that is that without governing bodies, both public and private information will flow freely.  You can find out what a government is doing overseas via Wikileaks, or someone can purchase your social security number without you knowing.  The question truly becomes, "how much regulation is possible without totally disrupting the flow of information and original ideas?"