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Monday, August 15, 2011

Anonymous Hackers Use Social Media to Mobilize for Tonight's BART Protest

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 12:45 PM

ANONYMOUS
  • Anonymous
When BART blacked out cellphone service last Thursday night in an attempt to foil protesters, hacker group Anonymous swang into action, organizing a rally for this evening that has commuters steeling themselves for service disruptions.

Whether you think the rallies are an effective means of protesting against BART, it's noteworthy just how fast this rally was put together. Not so long ago, protests needed weeks, if not months, of organization. Today, using a host of social media sites, Anonymous has been able to organize a protest in just four days.

While Anonymous' website is not particularly easy to find though a Google search, it has made itself heard through its Twitter feed, YouTube channel, news Tumblr, and, of course, Facebook. #opBart is humming with new tweets every minute, and Anonymous' digital flyers are making their way across media sites. The MuBARTek poster evokes Egyptian ex-president Hosni Mubarak.


The rally's Facebook event page underscores how much the protest is taking place away from the streets, encouraging people to "show solidarity by using black fax, mass e-mail, and phone calls to the BART Board of Directors." The page lists phone numbers for the BART police and reasons, "BART decided to cut off your communications and now we will flood theirs."

It seems that BART's phone lines might be a little bogged down, as a call to spokesperson Linton Johnson got us a voice message where he asks for detailed contact information and for reporters to leave all their questions as well. It sounds like he doesn't expect to be calling back anytime soon.

BART has not ruled out disrupting cellphone service again tonight, Johnson told media outlets. Jim Allison, a BART spokesman, also told CNET, "We are well within our legal rights."

While the online rallying is impressive and overwhelming, how many people will show up? So far, only 160 people on the Facebook page are planning to attend. At No Justice No Bart's rally last month, there were 300 people signed up to protest, but only around 200 turned up.

So after all of the Internet hullabaloo, it is uncertain how much of a real-world impact Anonymous will make. We'll find out tonight.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly.
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Caroline Chen

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