Anonymous Plans a Million Mask March

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The Guy Fawkes mask, logo for Anonymous and seen at protests around the world.

Tomorrow is Anonymous’s Million Mask March. It’s designed as a global series of multi-city demonstrations, although it’s not clear what’s being demonstrated.

Here’s the one-line description of the event: “Anonymous, WikiLeaks, The Pirate Party, Occupy and Oath Keepers Unite Marchers, Occupiers, Whistleblowers and Hacktivists.”

The description suggests that this is less similar to say, The Million Man March, and more like a meetup. But even as a meet-up, what a strange event.

Take two of the groups in that list. The Oath Keepers are an American group that asks soldiers and cops to disobey any orders they believe are unconstitutional. The Pirate Party began in Sweden as a movement in favor of legal torrenting. It’s hard to imagine these groups agreeing on much even at the most abstract levels of politics.

When Anonymous functions politically, it works less as an organized group and more as a description of a playbook of political action. Strangers on the internet unite to focus outrage and disseminate information around a specific injustice. Sometimes, they’ll hack whichever villain they’ve identified. Then, they disperse. The movement isn’t designed to be coherent, it’s not supposed to have a platform it can demonstrate in favor of.

All that said, I’m sort of ready to be completely surprised tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see who shows up and what they say .

PS. One funny side note. Some members are recommending that protestors eschew the traditional V For Vendetta Anonymous mask.

This is actually true. From the New York Times:

What few people seem to know, though, is that Time Warner, one of the largest media companies in the world and parent of Warner Brothers, owns the rights to the image and is paid a licensing fee with the sale of each mask.

“We sell over 100,000 of these masks a year, and it’s by far the best-selling mask that we sell,” said Howard Beige, executive vice president of Rubie’s Costume, a New York costume company that produces the mask. “In comparison, we usually only sell 5,000 or so of our other masks.” The Vendetta mask, which sells for about $6 at many retailers, is made in Mexico or China, Mr. Beige said.

Mr. Beige said he did not know why the mask was so popular until recently. “We just thought people liked the ‘V for Vendetta’ movie. Then one morning I saw a picture of these protesters wearing the mask in an online news article,” he said. “I quickly showed my sales manager.”