Thursday, October 31

YourAnonNews or OurAnonNews...?

Over the summer, Anonymous began to heat up the media with rumors of a YourAnonNews site launching, based on the popular Twitter/Tumblr account that has become a leading source of activism news. A crowdsourcing campaign on IndieGoGo contributed over $50k to the project, and all signs pointed to a late summer launch.

We're in the final quarter of 2013, and there's still no YAN site to show for all the money donated. Activists, hackers, and Anons worldwide are beginning to get antsy and look for answers. T-shirts and cups promised for donations have yet to be delivered. The hive has been stirred up, and everybody's pointing fingers.

So what happened? 

There's only three possible scenarios I see, and it's up to each of us to fully examine both the situation and the people involved to work toward a resolution. As the debate is starting to heat up (with the ninjas in the #UnicormCr3w getting riled up and ready to start kicking ass and taking names), now's a good time to familiarize yourselves with the epicenter of the finger-pointing debate.

Can Anarchists Manage a Project...?

Anyone familiar with YourAnonNews is aware the project was started by a couple of Anonymous anarchists in Colorado: @JackalAnon and @EisMC2. I've had the pleasure of speaking to the two of them on several occasions over the years. When I first blew the whistle, Amelia (along with her sister) and Chris were among the first people to reach out to me and provide support. Learning they were in charge of launching the website gave me confidence it would turn out ok.

On August 16, 2013, Emmi released a pastebin PR statement detailing what work had been done on the site. The next day, JoePie91, a fervent opponent of YourAnonNews, wrote a response blog, breaking down inconsistencies in Emmi's statement. Jackal has gone silent (posting only about the large quantities of drugs he has access to), and Emmi appears to have her hands full handling critics.

Now, with an initial failure under their belt, the pressure is building on Amelia & Chris to produce results. With critics popping up from every corner, both within Anonymous and externally, the current method isn't working, and something needs to be done. The issues appear to be attributed more to the inexperience of the project managers than any bad intentions. However it happened, though, it seems to have isolated these two dedicated Anons, and, if the project is ever to materialize, it'll take a lot of elbow grease that they likely won't be capable of providing without help...but that's only half the story...

The Journalist with a Cause...

While Amelia and Chris were working on the technical and promotional aspects of YAN, they weren't doing anything on the content side. When I was initially contacted about contributing to the project, it wasn't by Amelia and Chris, who know exactly where to find me; it was by Cordell Cameron, a new-media journo who was working on both YourAnonNews and CNN whistleblower Amber Lyon's Muckracker news sites.

Dell was out making initial contacts to various journalists and writers, looking for contributions to #YAN - the problem is he never followed up, and I never received any answers as to why. For every finger pointed in the direction of Jackal and Emmi, there's another one pointed squarely at Cameron. Was YourAnonNews nothing more than a way for Dell Cameron and Amber Lyon to promote themselves? Or has Dell just been pulled in too many directions? Burnout is real, even for those of us who work from home.

Rumors have already begun being spread on Twitter about both sides to this story:

YourAnonNews or OurAnonNews...?

Regardless of what happened, decisions need to be made. With SecureDrop, uStream, and Wikileaks already established, leakers, whistleblowers, and citizen journalists have options for reporting the news. Citizen journalism has already gone gonzo, and everyone has an equal opportunity to gain traction for their story. If a working and staffed site doesn't go up soon, #YAN may just end up falling victim to its own success.

At the end of the day, YourAnonNews is a very ambitious project, but it appears not to have panned out. I'm certain those who donated to the project will be out for vengeance, but it's vital that we don't lose focus on the actual intent of the project: YourAnonNews was supposed to provide an open-sourced news platform, but ended up becoming a vanity project (although whose vanity it fanned is currently up for debate).

Anytime anyone breached the subject, all parties involved shun, block, and attack to cover up their obvious fraud. This saga is a black stain on the reputation of Anonymous and I fully denounce any ties with anyone involved. These people are sick and stole from children - they all deserve to rot in prison, but there is no justice in this world, so these criminals hide behind lawyers and continue to wreak havoc under the Anonymous name.

That's my 2 cents on the story, but what do you think of YourAnonNews and the future of #Anonymous?

Want to learn more about the evolution of journalism? Check out: Gonzo 2.0 - Citizen Journalism Gone Gonzo...

***Update 10/31/13 8:19am - I talked to Emmi this morning, and we're working on setting up a convo between myself, Dell, Emmi, and Chris to figure out what's going on...I'll keep you posted...

Brian Penny is a former business analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower and freelance writer. He's a frequent contributor to Huffington PostMainstreetLifehack, and HardcoreDroid and an affiliate of Manduka and Tazo. He documents his experiences working with Anonymous, practicing yoga, and fighting the banks on his blog.


  1. So, you're suggesting a open news source where a story's worth is decided upon by a voting system. So, you're suggesting reddit...

    1. If you want to over-simplify it, yes...but that would be like calling my blog The Huffington Post simply because it's the same format...

      It's all about branding, my friend...Coke and Pepsi are the same thing...

  2. My name is mentioned here. No one tried to contact me to get answers. Did a Fox News contributor write this?

    1. I contacted were laid out with a broken heart, so I backed away to give you some time...Emmi DM'ed and said she'd set up a meet, but I never got a response...someone had to document the rumors...

      I offered to fly out to Colorado and crash on Emmi & Jackal's couch to provide an extra set of anything necessary, but never got a response...

      I don't have any more answers than anyone else, and I admit the questions are loaded, but someone's gotta show something soon, and I've been practically begging to contribute...

      If the #YAN brand has any chance of being salvaged, something needs to be done, and this project simply can't hibernate for the winter...

    2. I know there's a new group of people working to clean up the mess, do right by the fundraisers and the activist community at large. You're clearly personally offended, or you wouldn't have edited into your article something that is a smear against my reputation. And, no, adding a question mark at the end doesn't relieve you, as a writer, of your responsibility not to maliciously denigrate others. My involvement aside, Amber Lyon has never done anything to deserve having her reputation stomped on by someone like you. Her reporting helped shut down sex-trafficking of children on Craigslist. What have you done?

    3. What I've done is bring transparency to a project that clearly needed it...