Anonymous group is a loosely associated network of hacktivists. A website associated with the group describes it as "an internet gathering" with "a very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives". The group became known for a series of well-publicized hacks and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites.
Anonymous originated in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain. The group is also associated with the satirical open wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica. Anonymous members (known as "Anons") can be distinguished in public by the wearing of stylised Guy Fawkes masks.
Dozens of people have been arrested for involvement in Anonymous cyberattacks, in countries including the US, UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey. Evaluations of the group's actions and effectiveness vary widely. Supporters have called the group "freedom fighters" and digital Robin Hoods while critics have described them as "a cyber lynch-mob" or "cyber terrorists".
In 2012, Time called Anonymous one of the "100 most influential people" in the world.