The recent New York Times article “The Serial Swatter” highlighted serious consequences of being doxed (personal information published online) or swatted (police SWAT teams sent to a location under false pretenses). As social media mob justice dominates the discussion surrounding ISIS, false accusations of involvement in terrorist activities have been directed at people involved in petty or private feuds. It has been easy for opportunists to leverage the Anonymous name to dox or swat someone, due to the organizations decentralized nature and lack of accountability. As online efforts to combat the ISIS continue, it can become difficult to differentiate between true and false accusations.
In the hacking and hacktivist community, feuds are common. Doxing is one of the many ways that feuding hackers lash out at each other. One of the main goals of doxing is to direct as much harassment to the victim as possible, which often includes repercussions that extend beyond the Internet. Falsely accusing each other of crimes or framing each other is common in this community, and this often happens as part of a swatting attack or false bomb threat. This is often done with the intent to convince law enforcement to arrest the victim.
It comes as no surprise, then, that feuding hackers are also using false accusations of terrorism as a harassment technique. There have been multiple instances of dox postings accusing known figures in the hacking community of being supporters of ISIS.
In one incident, a Sikh man named Veerender Jubbal was falsely accused of being a Muslim terrorist. An altered image of Jubbal was picked up by a newspaper as an ISIS supporter involved in the Paris bombings. Veerender was targeted because he spoke out about the Gamergate controversy and raised the ire of an anonymous group of posters.
The above illustrates some of the many issues that arise from Internet mob justice; accusations can not only be wrong, but also be part of a malicious attack. As Anonymous names more names and accounts related to ISIS, it is important to keep the above incidents in mind when evaluating the validity of any particular accusation.