Anonymous, Adrian Chen, and the Shoe

September 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yes yes, this news is 12 hours old — I’m just now posting about Adrian Chen’s shoe and tutu-themed Glamour Shot because today was the first day of classes (well, the first day of my class), and one simply cannot write blog entries about that one time Anonymous said they did a thing and Adrian Chen responded trollishly whilst discussing one’s attendance policy.

So. Anonymous threatened to withhold any further information about an alleged hack on an alleged FBI cybersecurity agent, allegedly, unless Chen outfitted himself in a tutu and balanced a shoe on his head, Gangnam vintage ytmnd-style. Sounds legit! Chen agreed to Anon’s terms, and as a result, the above image will grace Gawker’s front page until 6:30 tonight.

As someone who studies the homologous relationship between troublemakers (trolls, hackers, etc) and members of the media, I am intrigued by this arrangement. By drawing attention to Anon’s claims, Chen breathed new life into the story. As a result, both Chen and Anonymous achieved their short-term objectives — the ultimate in quid pro quo branding. This is textbook amplification; this is how the process works. What’s unusual about this particular story is that Chen is (read: seems, I don’t know what lurks within the hearts of Gawker writers) fully aware of Anon’s intentions, but has decided to play along anyway — if only to call their bluff.

And this is where the story goes off-script. Usually, the media has no idea (or as the case may be, pretends to have no idea) that they’re ultimately just pawns in the troublemaker’s game. See Jenkem, see Over 9000 Penises. I’m curious to see how –or more interestingly, if– this unholy non-alliance results in the kind of spectacle Anonymous has historically been so adept at creating. I’m inclined to doubt it, since in this case there is no game to win. In fact, Chen’s willingness to play the game means the game has already been called, or at the very least is now Anonymous’ to lose. This is a very smart move on Chen’s part, not just in terms of pageviews, but also because his response –which essentially amounts to “I double-dog dare you”– will likely diffuse what Anon hoped would become the hot new trend in teen trolling. Well played, Gawker. Well played.

Update: Yeah nothing happened, at least on Anon’s end. Both the FBI and Apple have denied Anon’s claims (that Anon acquired 12 million Apple ID names/passwords from the FBI, which acquired them from Apple), which…I mean who knows, corporate henchpeople deny things all the time. But we’re well past Anon’s deadline and there’s been no update to Chen’s Gawker article, and you can bet your bippy that he’d update if there was something worth updating. 


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