"Twitter postings from another self-identified member of Anonymous appear to confirm that there was an internal dispute about the veracity of the name before one self-identified member of the group released it on Twitter.
Coleman has a few theories: One is that popular attention to Ferguson has attracted new activists to the group -- not all of whom may know about the potential pitfalls of using IRC for sensitive communications.
Another, perhaps more concerning theory is that this may be a so-called "false flag" operation, she says. That's when government agents or others who oppose the group plant erroneous information or urge members to move forward without the full picture to hurt the groups' credibility, she says.
While Coleman admits she has no evidence for this latter theory, she argues it's well within the realm of possibility. Government agents or moles have been known to infiltrate activist groups and allegedly encourage the worst of their behavior in the past, after all. (See: COINTELPRO)
According to Coleman, some on the IRC channel raised concerns that the push to release a name this morning may have been a false flag. And, she says, it's not the first time members of the collective have suspected as much: In Operation BART, a project responding to fatal shootings by officers associated with the San Francisco transit system, some within the group believed a hacker attacked and leaked customer data from Web sites associated with the transit system in order to discredit the group.
"In the end there was actually very little evidence that it was a false flag, and the person who did it wrote this justification about why she went and did it. She claimed to be a 13-year-old French hacker who was hacking for the first time, which I don’t think is quite true," Coleman says. "But ever since then, many different operations that are controversial will spur Anonymous to ask that question -- understandably.""
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