The Antisocial Network: Memes to Mayhem (2024) Movie Script

[somber music playing]
[mouse clicking and scrolling]
[man 1] You can fix code.
You can't fix people.
I always like to say
that the weakest part of any system
is the people that put it together.
Fifteen years ago,
we were just dumbass kids
having a good time
- sharing jokes and memes on the internet.
- [sound distorting]
Do we even know?
Who is this 4chan person or website?
[Alex Trebek]
is a collaborative community
known for posting these on the net. Tom?
- What are photographs?
- [Trebek] Yes.
[man 1] We were using subversive humor
to make fun of the world.
[newscaster 1] Their name comes
from their secret website.
[man 1] Not understanding
that the jokes we made
would turn into conspiracy theories.
[creepy, distorted music]
[man 1] And next thing you know,
the entire world
turned into this disinformation-pumping
gigantic chanosphere.
[newscaster 2] Conspiracy theories
saturate the internet.
[newscaster 3] This misinformation
has reshaped our society.
[man 1] We started something and
never intended for it to end up this way.
[people shouting]
[protestors chanting] USA!
[man 1] And now I'm just trying to
clean up what I see as my old mistakes.
[music ends]
[digital distortion rises and fades out]
[wind gusting]
[man 2] I was about ten years old
when I first got into computers.
- [pensive synthesizer music playing]
- I would start playing sick at home
to get out of school.
The only phone line in the house
was in the living room,
but my computer was upstairs.
I would take one of my parent's checks,
open up an AOL account,
and go online on AOL all day.
[modem dialing, staticky burst]
And then an hour before my mom and dad
were gonna be coming home from work,
I would get on the phone
with AOL to cancel the account.
[staticky burst]
[Fuxnet] I felt like
the coolest criminal child in the world.
I think I was 12
when we first got the internet.
I definitely was super curious,
looking up stuff
I probably should not have been.
I specifically remember one instance,
my stepdad approached me
after dinner one night.
He's like, "Why did you look up"
- And I got in so much trouble.
- [erotic moaning]
I wasn't allowed online
for like a week after that. [chuckles]
[cell door slamming]
From my perspective, as a kid, you know,
there was always just internet.
- Chat rooms, forums, bulletin boards.
- [pensive synthesizer music continues]
Having an online persona
as a way to get outside myself.
Kirtaner is loud, brash,
It was an inverse
of how I was in real life.
[crying echoing]
[Fuxnet] I didn't understand that
I had anxiety, but I knew that I felt
strange being in groups of people.
So, the internet became a place for me to
be comfortable.
I would just go online,
see what other people were talking about,
attempt to join in.
There was this whole other world
of people that I could talk to.
[upbeat synthesizer music]
I would talk to people
about video games, anime.
At the time, Japanese anime
was blowing up in a big way.
American children's entertainment,
it's pretty lame for the most part.
The Japanese stuff was just cooler than
all the other stuff on TV at the time.
[all] Power Rangers!
[Kirtaner] Throughout the '90s,
it felt like Japanese culture
was taking over the world.
- [crowd cheering faintly]
- [music fades out]
[passersby chattering]
[man] I'd always wanted to live in Japan.
To us Gen-Xers,
Japan was the place that made all the cool
stuff that we so desperately wanted.
- [ambient digital music playing]
- In the '90s and early 2000s,
Japan was a Petri dish for all sorts
of technological innovations.
[crowd cheering]
[Alt] Most Japanese accessed
the internet not off of PCs,
but on cell phones,
which had really limited bandwidth.
It starts to create strange new systems
for communication, like the emoji.
And 2channel
was yet another example of this.
2channel is an anonymous
bulletin board system.
Being totally anonymous gave young people
the opportunity to vent
their thoughts and opinions
without fear of being judged for it.
It was pretty primitive looking,
but, you know, connecting people,
being able to find your tribe,
it was absolutely revolutionary.
[high-pitched tinkling]
[Alt] And it was
instantly popular with otaku.
Otaku are adults who had no interest
in any of the traditional trappings
of adulthood.
2channel let them
dive deeper into their fantasy lives.
The visual aspect also made it
a lot easier for Westerners to access.
One of them was a mysterious figure
who went by the handle "moot."
[ominous synth music playing]
[Alt] He downloaded
a copy of 2chan's software
and then he launched it
under the name 4chan.,
an English version of
[distorted digital burst]
[Kirtaner] First time I saw 4chan
was the first day it was online.
- [lighter flicking, bong bubbling]
- [Kirtaner] If I'm remembering correctly.
[giggling, coughing]
It was like a hodgepodge
of anything you could think of.
[Amanda] Things that you would not see
anywhere else online except for there.
There was definitely a lot
of stuff that was... super edgy.
[straw sucking]
[Fuxnet] To my young brain...
- [8-bit video game sounds]
- was really cool. [chuckling]
[Kirtaner] You could say whatever you want
and it was not associated with you.
Nobody knew who you were,
you were anonymous.
[8-bit video game music playing]
Being able to post things anonymously,
with an image, didn't exist
anywhere else on the internet.
During the summer of 2004,
a friend hits me up and is like,
"Hey, do you want to
come on as a programmer?"
And I'm like, "Okay."
I like programming. So, why not?
Moot was very mysterious.
No one knew what he looked like.
No one knew his real name,
or where he lived.
But he created something we all wanted.
Like, this is what the internet should be.
You can communicate with anyone all over
the world, in any way you want.
[upbeat music playing]
[Kirtaner] It was a glorious time,
those early first few years.
Like, we ate, breathed, slept that shit.
We formed our own language, our own lingo.
[dog barking]
Most of it, not exactly culturally
acceptable in this day and age.
- [mouse clicking]
- [chiming]
[The Fonz, distorted] Ey.
4chan loved making these inside jokes
that people outside
the community wouldn't get.
"For the Lulz" was a term.
[Fuxnet] "The lulz" is a bastardization
of "laugh out loud."
You would make a funny meme,
post it, you refresh,
all of a sudden, you've got 100 replies.
Everybody's laughing,
joking, modifying it.
You've got that dopamine rush.
You just wanted another hit,
another taste.
Viral imagery blasting in your eyeballs.
You didn't want the party to stop.
[chaotic overlapping sounds]
The site worked in this Darwinian way,
where the most interesting posts,
the posts that got the most replies,
would be bumped to the top of the site,
and all the other ones
would fall away and die.
[man screaming]
[Beran] The game was
to post something interesting,
that was funny,
that people would reply to,
that would essentially survive
on the site more than a second.
[Fuxnet] You're constantly getting
new content, and it just keeps you hooked.
That was the beginning of the format
of what became social media nowadays,
what they call the endless scroll.
[digital whooshing]
[Kirtaner] We were just watching
this thing grow and evolve
and slowly take over all of our minds.
[dark, distorted music playing]
[Alt] What the 4chan users didn't know
was that 2channel's effect
on Japanese society was profound.
2channel spawned
all sorts of extreme behavior.
[dark music continues]
[Alt] Like the Neomugicha incident,
where a kid who had been egged on
by 2channel users
hijacked a city bus,
and he actually killed
one of the passengers with a knife.
It sparked a whole lot of debate
about the impact of having
a totally anonymous website.
[speaking Japanese] Undoubtedly,
the internet is a hotbed of crimes.
People are posting irresponsible comments
because it's anonymous.
[Alt, in English] The things
that we saw happening in Japan
were about to come to the West,
but we just didn't know it
yet at the time.
- [upbeat music playing]
- [crowd cheering]
Ladies and gentlemen,
boys and girls, otaku of all ages,
welcome to the 2005 Otakon show.
[crowd cheering]
[man 1] Otakon is an anime convention
that started in Baltimore.
At the time, it was one
of the largest in the country,
and where the very first
official 4chan panel happened.
Going from spending so much time on 4chan
to being in a physical space with
thousands of people was pretty surreal.
Growing up, I lived a very sheltered life.
I was bullied in grade school,
my parents weren't supportive,
no one cared about what I was
interested in and what I was into.
And I'm just like, I gotta
find some way of dealing with this.
And so, going into the anime scene
was kind of an escape for me.
I can drop the pretense. I don't have
to pretend. I can be who I am.
[crowd cheering]
[Will] And I actually did
this whole comedy skit,
but as soon as it was over,
walked all the way downstairs,
and I sat in the front row
of the first 4chan panel in 2005.
[man 2] This will be
on BitTorrent tomorrow.
[man 3 laughing]
[Alt] Up at the front of the room
you have the 4chan guys,
who are giving this
PowerPoint presentation, or trying to...
about this new website that they'd made.
[Amanda] Despite everyone
being completely anonymous,
it felt like there were these people
that were kind of celebrities.
It was funny because we hadn't
even posted our photos before,
no one knew what we looked like.
People didn't really think
moot was actually a person.
Come up here.
Moot is in this room,
and he's coming up on stage right now.
Oh my God!
[man 4] That's not moot.
Hi. I'm known as moot.
- [crowd cheering]
- [man 4 boos]
[Snacks] Moot was this teenage boy wearing
a blue Polo shirt, with chubby cheeks,
and a New York Yankees hat.
I don't know what I was expecting,
but moot definitely wasn't
what anyone was expecting.
[upbeat synthesizer music playing]
[Fuxnet] There was a little bit
of a celebrity to it, you know?
This was moot, the guy who created 4chan.
And then we browsed over three million
pages a day, and that's a lot of porn.
- [crowd laughing]
- [moot] Elsewhere...
[Snacks] I think the most exciting thing
about doing a panel with our users
was realizing that this is bigger
than we thought it was.
- [crowd chattering]
- [man 5] Wrong way!
You can see thousands of posts
per day from all over the world,
but not realize
how you are affecting these people.
We weren't really seeing ourselves
as anything special.
We were just a bunch of kids having fun
that somehow made something
that was bigger than us.
[distorted laughter]
[Beran] 4chan establishes itself
as this goofy, creative place,
and these jokes they're creating,
they start to make
their way outside of 4chan.
An early popular meme was linked to
something someone really wanted to see.
["Never Gonna Give You Up" playing]
And instead, it would link to Rick Astley
singing "Never Gonna Give You Up."
- People got "Rickrolled."
- [song distorting, ending]
[newscaster] A friend sends you a link,
but when you click on the link,
up pops this instead.
["Never Gonna Give You Up" playing]
You've been Rickrolled.
[whimsical music playing]
[Fuxnet] We were
essentially trolling people.
Trolling is like performance art.
The idea is to digitally pants someone
and have everyone point and laugh.
At least, that's the fun spirit of it.
[creepy laughter]
So, they got together and wanted
to do these collective pranks,
and they would all say,
"Let's go mess with this person."
"Let's go and ruin other websites."
[whimsical music continues]
[Fuxnet] Habbo Hotel was
an online browser-based game.
It was a chatroom essentially,
but you could go
to different virtual spaces.
There was a rumor that Habbo Hotel
was removing users
who were using Black avatars.
The 4chan users decided,
hey, we're going to create
Black characters with Afros and suits,
and we're going to go en masse
onto Habbo Hotel
and just block access to entire areas.
[Kirtaner] We were blocking
the entrances to the pool.
The infamous phrase
"Pool is closed due to AIDS."
Other hijinks. We would take all of
our characters and form a swastika.
- Yeah, I know. We were dumb kids.
- [music ends]
Maybe, looking back on it,
it probably was not as innocent as
people catching onto it
might have assumed,
but it didn't feel like that.
It felt like people
were just being stupid.
But then it did start to shift to people
actually, like, trolling in real life.
[woman] My six-year-old and eight-year-old
half-Black grandchildren
are not welcome in my subdivision's pool.
[newscaster] Some try to explain it away
as part of an internet phenomenon,
and those who don't know of it
are left out of the joke.
Didn't feel inherently mean.
It just felt like, okay,
everyone's doing this. This is funny.
[somber music playing]
[woman] A joke is when two people laugh.
I'm not laughing.
[newscaster] During our interview,
Altorfer learned
of a second flyer at the pool.
It's a picture of me with an afro?
And I tell myself it's just a bunch
of racist, homophobic geeks.
[Fuxnet] People started recreating
Habbo Hotel in person
and this culture spawned out of it.
We were growing up online together,
figuring things out.
We didn't know necessarily
what was right or wrong.
We didn't know what kind
of culture we were building.
We weren't really aware of those things,
but we were building them.
[somber music continues]
[Fuxnet] And that became a problem
for the people who ran 4chan.
So moot banned raids.
[Kirtaner] We were all having
so much fun, and
it got clamped down on really quickly.
And we weren't having any of that.
[Snacks] I think the Otakon meetup
really inspired moot
to try and make 4chan
more of a social thing,
like Facebook or something,
than like the anonymous culture
that he began with.
I disagreed,
we argued about it, and then I did have
my server access removed by moot.
That was that. I was gone.
Moot ain't the boss of us.
We want to do what we want,
and we're going to have some fun.
And in that moment
an identity started to form.
We all collectively started
referring to ourselves,
and our merry band of chaos-stirrers...
[ominous music playing]
It coalesced into an identity, ironically.
You know, you think "anonymous,"
you don't think of an identity,
but an identity formed
around this one single word.
[ominous music continues,
overlaid with distorted digital sounds]
[creepy high-pitched giggling]
[childlike voice] Ah-ahh.
[digital distortion effects]
[echoing, distorted laughter]
[music fades out]
[Kirtaner] Habbo Hotel showed
that you could enact retribution
towards someone or something
that we felt deserved it.
And this obviously attracted people
that wanted to join in the fun and chaos.
The big breakout raid.
There was a neo-Nazi radio show host.
His name was Hal Turner.
- Welcome to The Hal Turner Show.
- [intense music playing]
For some reason or another,
all these lower cultures and lower races
are more important.
And I find that disgusting.
[Kirtaner] He made himself a target
just by being who he is.
He had a phone number you could call.
[Turner] Where you calling from?
[Kirtaner] We did a lot of prank calls...
[Turner] Thomas, you're on air.
[Thomas] Well, I was born
and raised in West Philadelphia,
- played b-ball outside the school and all.
- [Turner] Right.
[Thomas] Just one little fight
and my mom got scared,
sent me to live with some
relatives down in Bel-Air.
[Turner] And he's out
of here too! Another asshole.
...and drove him into an absolute frenzy.
[Turner] "Hal Turner was right.
I should've paid attention,
but I was too busy being
a fucking moron on the radio!"
Hal Turner Show.
Who are you? Where you calling from?
He would always react and escalate things.
[Turner] You sit there
like a stupid motherfucking asshole...
I don't want to imply that all the people
that were trolling Hal Turner
were anti-racists.
A lot of them
just wanted to fuck with people.
We trolled him mercilessly for months.
- Hello, this is Kirt. I run 420chan.
- [Turner] You've had a lot of fun with me.
[Kirtaner] We kept
his show offline for 10 weeks.
[Turner] You are not going
to kick me off my own server.
We hacked into his email account, found
emails between him and his FBI handler,
outed him as an informant.
He got ostracized from
the white supremacist community,
- his wife filed for divorce...
- [intense music ends]
...and in the end
he was the one that went to jail.
[Turner] I'm in Essex County jail.
Internet tough guy and all,
but I got to tell you,
I am not cut out for where I am.
[music restarts]
If something drew the ire of Anonymous,
it suffered.
- [clicking]
- [music ends]
[keyboard clacking]
[dog barking in distance]
[man] A lot of times when
you do something groundbreaking,
you only know it was groundbreaking
when you look back at it.
But while you're doing it,
it's just the thing that's happening.
[gentle music playing]
[man] During the Hal Turner raids,
I did some of the phone calls.
The content of them,
I'm not proud of anymore,
but at the end of the raid,
you look back, and you start questioning.
We put a white nationalist in jail.
Well, that was a good thing.
What... What else can we do?
[Beran] So, they looked for someone
they can test their strength against,
and they settle
on the Church of Scientology.
[distorted digital effects]
[Fuxnet] Scientology
was a relatively new religion.
It was started by a science fiction
author, L. Ron Hubbard.
And they used celebrities to make
the church into a global powerhouse.
[mysterious music playing]
[Fuxnet] There was an internal
Church of Scientology video
that leaked to the internet
of Tom Cruise being over-the-top.
[laser blast effects]
[narrator] There is a worldwide arena
where the game is played
for the fate of whole populations,
but there's someone advancing
Scientology on a fully epic scale.
[in increasingly dramatic voice] He is IAS
Freedom Medal of Valor winner Tom Cruise!
[electronic music playing]
There's nothing part of the way for me.
- [laughing]
- [rock music playing]
It's just... [mimicking blast off]
[music fades out]
Watching this video,
it's hilarious how crazy he sounds.
It was supposed to only exist in a way
where it gets shown to Scientologists.
So, it's internal,
and they do not want the world to see it.
[Fuxnet] And then, all of a sudden,
the Church of Scientology
got it removed from all over the internet.
Oh, they're trying to control
the flow of information on the internet?
Oh, we can't have that.
[mysterious music playing]
[Housh] But Scientology
was not an easy target.
Back in, I believe, 1991,
they sued Time magazine for a article
that was titled "Cult of Greed."
And so most media were not
talking about Scientology,
no matter what Scientology did wrong.
[Fuxnet] There were rumors
of people leaving the church
who were then being harassed,
or mysteriously committing suicide.
Secrecy surrounded Scientology.
[Housh] So, what if we, as a group,
could make this so outlandish
and so large of a thing
that the media would have
no choice but to cover it?
That would be a win.
[music ends]
[distorted electronic voice speaking]
[Housh] So, we uploaded
the message onto YouTube,
and went to sleep not expecting
it to do too terribly much.
[phone ringing]
[Housh] I wake up the next morning
to a phone call from my girlfriend,
and she's like, "It's on CNN."
So, I turn on the damn TV, and they play
the video twice while I'm watching.
[distorted electronic voice]
We are Anonymous. We are legion.
We do not forgive. We do not forget.
[Housh] Suddenly, everyone online
was expecting direction.
[rhythmic electronica playing]
[Housh] We came up with
the name Operation Chanology.
The idea was, they've got buildings
in every major city on this planet,
hundreds of them, so what would
the internet look like if it went outside?
[Kirtaner] But we also needed
an image that sticks with people.
[in robotic voice] This goddamn guy.
[wheezing laughter]
[in regular voice] V for Vendetta
was a hot film at the time.
These masks were everywhere.
The aesthetic that was defined
by the Habbo Hotel raids,
the suit and the tie, and the afro,
then melded with the Guy Fawkes mask.
[rhythmic electronica rising]
We assumed that worldwide
200 people would show up outside.
We start watching Sydney,
the first city to go live.
And within an hour,
there's 200 people on the ground there.
Then Perth and Adelaide and Melbourne,
and all them start going.
We thought, 'cause they were smaller than
Sydney, we would end up with 20 people.
No, they all get hundreds.
By the time we get to Germany,
we're up over like 4,000 people.
So, we're just losing our minds.
We're here with a protester.
He's known as...
A web-based group called Anonymous
has been picketing and protesting
in front of the Church of Scientology
in Boston and elsewhere.
[newscaster] The virtual protest came
to life in cities around the world.
And today, dozens of those people
put on masks in downtown Toronto
in an unusual standoff.
Their goal is to shut down what they call
a cult of misinformation and greed.
We are Anonymous.
We are legion. Expect us!
- [protestors] Expect us!
- [rhythmic electronica continues]
[Housh] By the end of the day, we're
counting somewhere near 10,000 people
have shown up worldwide to our protests.
[protestors] Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
[Kirtaner] Anonymous was,
from that point forward,
a globally recognized force for good.
[mysterious music playing]
[Beran] That's absurd, right?
Like, this weird anime website
that kind of morphs into this other thing
decided to have a semi-ironic street
protest against, like,
a celebrity science-fiction cult.
Chanology really showed
an entire generation of people that
you could organize something anonymously
that would have a real-world effect.
[dark, distorted effects]
[Kirtaner] Putting forward an idea online,
having it manifest in the world,
- it's a powerful feeling.
- [creepy distorted laughter]
[Kirtaner] You start to enjoy the feeling
of inflicting that pain
that you feel on others.
It's a way to escape it,
to take control of it.
It's ultimately harmful to everyone.
- [dark, distorted effects end]
- Things started out very centralized,
and then after Chanology
it became a formless, shapeless beast.
For a while, in the invasion community,
I was perhaps one of the only voices who
would chime in every now and then and go...
[Kirtaner] We were just trying
to have fun, have our kicks.
All these rah-rah good guys and stuff.
No, we are not good fucking people.
We are goddamn monsters...
So, at the same time that they're
doing these very earnest protests,
they're still spinning these
crazy nihilistic pranks on the world.
They post on Oprah's message board.
Let me read you something
that was posted on our message boards
from someone who claims to be a member
of a known pedophile network.
Oprah reads that to her entire audience
of seven million moms.
He doesn't forgive.
He does not forget.
His group has over 9,000 penises,
and they're all raping children.
[Beran] It's grotesque, right?
[Fuxnet] People were
just being shitty, being mean,
just for the fun of it,
and trying to take it to its limits.
I will readily admit
I was one of those people.
[Kirtaner] It's just jokes.
It's just edgy, subversive humor.
[electronic warbling]
If you were in on the joke,
you were just laughing your ass off.
[Beran] So, Anonymous really kind
of splits in these two directions.
Half the group goes off
and becomes genuine activists,
and the irony melts away there.
And there's a section of Anonymous
that wants to be trolls still.
["Never Gonna Give You Up"
playing on car stereo]
- [driver] Ooh.
- [singing] Give you up
[Amanda] Otakon felt so different.
The community was so much bigger.
- [woman 1] The best day of my life.
- [woman 2] Look at all these costumes.
[Beran] Instead of anime characters, you
had people dressed up as memes from 4chan.
[man 1] 4chan's where it's at, man.
[all] Fuck you!
[Will] I was asked to host a panel.
I'm friends with moot.
I just was folded into the entourage.
- [Will] Any last words?
- We're gonna have a great time today.
- All right, we'll take another question.
- [man 2] Hi, come on up here.
I'm looking around, and I'm like,
yeah, these are my people,
but there's something wrong with this.
["1st of May" by Der Blaue Reiter playing]
[woman 3] Aw!
[scattered laughter]
[music fades out]
[Housh] Kids literally started throwing
Sig Heils, like, in real life.
For the most part,
we just kind of brushed it off.
These are the few.
Maybe, they don't necessarily represent
all of us.
[somber music playing]
People felt more comfortable doing
or saying stuff than they had previously.
Saying racially charged things,
just incredibly offensive stuff.
Because they feel comfortable
with their little group,
they feel like
maybe there's no consequence.
[crowd chanting]
[Beran] If I could go back in time,
and if you had told me that,
"You're walking through
this anime convention,
and this is a pivot point
upon which history will turn."
Now, looking back at it,
it feels like a premonition.
[Fuxnet] It was very stark contrast
to all the goodness that you saw,
the community, the friendship
you saw at the convention.
It made it more apparent that
there was some bad things happening
and it was leaking over
into the real world.
On the first day,
- moot created 4chan...
- [crowd whooping]
...and said,
"Lo, this is 4chan, bringer of pain."
[woman 4] Hallelujah!
[crowd cheering]
On the second day, moot created Anonymous.
[crowd cheering]
[Will] I had to make a decision as to
whether I was going to participate or not.
And me being part of this is endorsing it,
it's making it okay,
and I don't want it to be okay.
Thank you, Will.
[man 3] I stopped going to conventions.
I stopped cosplaying.
The long and short of this
is that I had to grow up.
[Amanda] There was a huge shift in,
like, the greater part of the community
felt more like it was...
just trolling.
Rape train! Rape train!
It started to kind of
outweigh the funny stuff.
It was kind of scary, honestly.
[keyboard clacking]
[Fuxnet] The older I got,
the more mature I got,
I became interested in
disturbing the balance of power.
You know, my hope was that
this force would be able to be wielded
for good.
[distorted digital droning]
[ambient music playing]
[Beran] As this sort of decentralized,
anti-establishment collective is growing,
the political landscape is changing.
Obama came in promising hope and change,
but he didn't really deliver on that.
So, that expectation that wars would end,
that Wall Street would get punished,
that something would happen,
melts into resentment.
That's the moment people say,
"Now we have to go outside the system."
[Fuxnet] You started to see
a lot more people support the idea
of vigilante justice online.
[Housh] We could actually get some
change done if we wanted it.
We had a hand to play in this.
[creepy digital warbling]
[Housh] The hand we thought we had
was destructive.
We thought we were going to just start
laying waste to the things that existed
in order to force them to
build something else up in the ruins.
[Fuxnet] And Occupy Wall Street
seemed like a vehicle for that.
[music fades out]
Occupy Wall Street was being pushed
by a group out of New York,
and it wasn't going anywhere.
They were gathering
in Zuccotti Park to protest.
They wanted to take on
the financial industry,
and get some of these
people arrested who deserved it.
We stepped up with the large megaphone
that we had and said
Anonymous is standing behind these people.
We started putting out material for it.
The media were like, "Great, Anonymous
is involved. Now we'll talk about it."
We begin this morning with the protest
movement that began near Wall Street
- and is gaining strength.
- [newscaster 1] Anonymous.
Now, they're evolving into this
movement of social change.
A real driving force
behind the Wall Street occupiers.
- [man] Tell me what democracy looks like!
- [all] This is what democracy looks like!
[Fuxnet] Right off the rip, Occupy
Wall Street was a big hit with Anonymous.
It was regular
people occupying public space.
[mysterious music playing]
It's an attractive story for the media
to see a vigilante group
that can't be identified,
can't be tracked down,
but anyone can be in Anonymous.
[man 2] People have had it.
They know that their country
is headed in the wrong direction.
[Beran] It felt like there was no way to
say what Occupy Wall Street was saying.
That these big power structures
that are over people's heads,
that no one really likes,
there are actually ways to attack them.
Maybe there's ways to dismantle them.
Anonymous was part of that.
[newscaster 2] Today thousands of union
workers marched in solidarity.
[newscaster 3] It's in every US state
and more than 100 cities.
It was a global effort, and a lot
of people were riding that wave.
[protestors chanting] We are the 99%!
I was watching
the live streams constantly.
Tax the rich!
[Fuxnet] The energy around Occupy
definitely made people feel like
a change could be around the corner.
[distant police sirens]
And the response by the state
was as aggressive as possible.
[protestors chanting] Shame on you!
Shame on you! Shame on you!
If you refuse to leave the park,
you'll be subject to arrest.
[Beran] The state felt
they had to destroy them,
and really rip apart that idea,
which they perceived as a threat.
They're treating us like we're
some kind of violent people.
- This is so sad. This is America.
- [protestors screaming]
[somber music playing]
[man] It was a period of time when
I think the world was in uproar.
I'd heard about it
and the things Anonymous had done.
And so I wanted to be there
to offer my experience and skills.
But I was just kind of attracted to
hacking 'cause it was anti-authoritarian,
and those ideals kind of spoke to me.
[people clamoring]
Because the police brutally repressed
these protest movements in the streets,
I escalated things a little bit
by going after the police and government.
A group of online pranksters has
embarked on a type of hacking payback.
[newscaster 4] Retaliation
for what it called brutality
against Occupy Wall Street protesters.
[Hammond] To be honest,
there's a point in time when I had
more targets than the time to work with.
[reporter 5] Hacking
the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office...
DPS breached by a group of hackers...
A notorious hacking group has targeted
Rupert Murdoch's newspapers.
They were just having a good time
doing these high-profile crimes.
The CIA's website,
for the US Senate's website...
[newscaster 6] Law enforcement websites
in Birmingham, Boston, were also hacked.
[Hammond] There was kind of,
like, "I have nothing to lose."
They were able to take down for a brief period of time.
[newscaster 7] Now Anonymous
is taking a victory lap.
I was hacking at night, and then waking up
and going to work and school.
We had the momentum and the power.
We were in control.
[newscaster 8] The agents didn't know
there was a third party on the line.
The target of the call,
Anonymous, was listening in.
[Housh] I would be happy
taking down the entire system.
Burn it all to the ground.
It seems that a week doesn't go by
without a significant story
about hacking or cyberattacks.
And the Pentagon is now
singling out Anonymous
as an example of the serious
new cyber threats facing the country.
[Fuxnet] This one night,
it's like 3:00 in the morning.
[suspenseful music playing]
[Fuxnet] And all of a sudden,
I got a private message...
from an alias of Jeremy Hammond.
He had a sense of urgency.
He needed help with hacks
and was literally giving me
specific targets to go after
and giving me all the information
I needed to compromise those targets.
Which is kind of unheard of.
It's like somebody
giving you the keys to a car
and saying,
"Hey, can you steal this car for me?"
[car tires screeching in distance]
[Fuxnet] It was unlike
any kind of conversation that we had
prior to this point.
That left me feeling very uneasy.
[suspenseful music continues]
[Fuxnet] The next morning,
I had an opening shift at my job,
and I get a text message from
a friend of mine.
A news story had just dropped.
[newscaster 1] Some members
of the computer-hacking organization
known as Anonymous
are no longer anonymous.
[newscaster 2] Jeremy Hammond
is one of five suspected hackers
arrested by the FBI.
[camera clicking]
They had been watching me, like,
come and go out of my apartment.
[camera clicking]
[newscaster 3] Hammond was arrested
at his Bridgeport home.
He remembers smoking
marijuana with friends
when heavily armed federal agents
tossed in a flashbang grenade.
[man shouting]
They are already in the front door.
They were also busting in my window.
The cops were
definitely looking for my laptop.
They wanted to seize
my laptop while it was running,
and I had it set up to where
if you close the lid of the laptop,
it would require a password.
So that would deter them from being
able to recover
the contents of my hard drive.
So, I walked two steps towards my computer
and shut the laptop just in time.
[Fuxnet] I was scared for myself.
I realized that it wasn't
Jeremy that was messaging me,
it was the FBI,
and they were trying to entrap me.
[sirens sounding]
[Fuxnet] When I got home, I immediately
started wiping all of my hard drives.
And left the next day.
[Kirtaner] I have nothing to do
with any of this, but I freaked out,
and anything that I could find on
the first five to ten pages of Google,
I blew it all away.
If there was a Wiki article
that named me, I wiped it.
That's the moment
that I made myself disappear.
Tried to bury the past as much as I could.
Just completely exited that world.
For a long, long, long time.
[music fades out]
[digital distortion effects]
[Beran] The FBI
effectively broke up that group.
And when they did that,
the Anonymous bubble collapsed.
[dot-matrix printer printing]
[Hammond] Unfortunately, they brute forced
the password to my laptop.
It took them six months.
My password was named after my cat.
Chewy12345. It was at least 10 characters.
[cell door closing]
[Hammond] In the end, I was sentenced
to 10 years, the statutory maximum.
Those who wrote letters,
visited, attended court dates,
- I appreciate you.
- [melancholy music playing]
[Fuxnet] There was definitely
this feeling of disappointment.
You know? I mean, I think a lot of us
had high hopes for Anonymous
and what could come next.
I spent the next months, uh, on trains,
Greyhound buses,
taxis going all over the country.
I was afraid to talk to my friends and
family because that might lead to me
being compromised in some way.
It was one of the loneliest experiences
I've had in my life.
[melancholy music continues]
After Anonymous left 4chan,
the people who were left there
were a great deal of young people
who were more despairing than ever.
[distorted digital burst]
[man] 4chan was appealing because
I was very angry at my living situation.
It was a place where there were a lot
of very angry kids, for many reasons,
and angry adults too.
And the board became,
like, depression central.
We're all kind of losers, right?
- [pensive music playing]
- That doesn't have to be such a bad thing
and you can kind of make
a community out of that.
You started to see users
one-upping each other
in terms of who has it worse in life.
I felt like I could usually win those,
even though I was pretty young,
because I have this crippling disease.
[Beran] That feeling of powerlessness
that launched Occupy Wall Street,
that didn't go away.
It just sunk into this new, dark,
nihilistic place.
[ominous music playing]
[music fades out]
One of the things that I really liked
about going on 4chan was that
I was not supposed to be there.
Both culturally,
it was sort of designed to repel me,
and, literally, they said there
were no women there.
[apprehensive music playing]
[Alexander] These young men
were experiencing
this profound mass alienation,
and coping with it through extreme humor
and sexual and violent imagery.
It became really clear that
there was a desire to cultivate
a space that was hostile to women.
At the time, I was a full-time journalist
writing about the world of video games.
A game developer called Zo Quinn
had made an independent game
on living with depression.
Depression Quest.
It was a text-based game that didn't
have conventional production values.
The game made Zo controversial as
a developer because Zo was, like,
bringing new voices and new subject matter
to the world of video games.
A little while later, Zo had
a disgruntled ex-boyfriend
publish a blog post
about Zo having a relationship
with a games journalist.
I thought that
can't possibly be controversial.
But some gamers seized on this blog post
as evidence of a conspiracy
that women and gender minorities
were ruining the video games industry.
[man] Depression Quest. [laughing]
It's developed by
some dumb bitch named Zo Quinn,
who had to fuck five guys in gaming media
to get positive reviews.
Hey, there's plenty
of stupid bitches like her.
[Alexander] That games journalist
had never covered Zo's work.
This conspiracy became
a harassment campaign against Zo,
against female video games journalists,
and against anyone who spoke out
against the harassment.
They said, you know, "It's about
ethics in video games journalism,"
and it wasn't.
They were just trying to find a rationale
that explains their disenfranchisement.
Zo Quinn,
you are the stupidest person alive.
[Alexander] There was this sentiment that
women are coming to take our toys away.
This one place where it's supposed
to be safe to be a dork,
is now under attack by women.
GamerGate. It's a story about sexism
in the world of video gaming.
[newscaster 1] Bomb threats,
rape threats, even death threats.
It was nothing
but trying to get me to kill myself.
Trying to get people to hurt me.
GamerGate is a war
on women in this industry.
[journalist] Ethics in journalism is not
what's happening in any way.
It's actually men going after women
in really hostile, aggressive ways.
That's what GamerGate is about.
GamerGate established 4chan as this place
of extreme and misogynistic behavior.
And moot was
obviously very troubled by this.
He had sort of evolved
from that kid with the baseball cap
hiding behind his laptop at Otakon,
into a sort of internet celebrity.
[man] You still live at home, right?
I actually moved out recently.
That's very cool.
[Beran] Once GamerGate occurred
on the chans, moot decided to ban it.
Moot said to the GamerGate coalition,
"You're not allowed
to talk about this here."
[music ends]
[Brennan] Having seen
the Scientology movement,
movements that grow out of chan boards
tend to be right in the end.
It was like this
infallible belief that I had.
So, when GamerGate happened...
I was definitely a sympathetic audience.
[pensive music playing]
[Brennan] So, after Chris Poole
banned GamerGate,
there were a bunch of users
that wanted to still talk about it.
They searched on Google
"alternatives to 4chan."
They eventually got
to, like, page three, which had...
8chan, before GamerGate,
only had like 100 posts a day.
But after, we had some days where
we were getting 7,000 posts in an hour.
[interviewer] Fredrick, you and 8chan
are being likened to a hate group.
How do you answer to that?
[Brennan] Someone made
a GamerGate board on 8chan,
but it was not founded
for the purpose of GamerGate,
and it will be around long
after GamerGate is over.
[Brennan] The only sources
that were taking GamerGate seriously
were very far right sources.
Like Breitbart.
[newscaster] Breitbart News,
a bomb-throwing site
favored by the so-called alt-right.
A mixture of conservatives and populists,
white supremacists, and anti-Semites.
[Brennan] Milo Yiannopoulos wrote
a whole bunch of articles about GamerGate.
[Milo] Every community on the internet,
4chan, Reddit, or whatever,
has a dog in the fight in GamerGate.
Conservatives have missed
a huge cultural opportunity.
He knew he was writing this stuff
to, like, a 4chan audience.
[Alexander] These gamers
were being courted.
Like, "Yes, you are disenfranchised and,
yes, women are taking your toys away."
"And, you know, that's happening to us
at all levels of government as well."
[Beran] Steve Bannon,
the owner and publisher of Breitbart,
who later became part
of the Trump administration,
now understands
this group of young, disenfranchised men,
who are angry, who are unhappy,
and he says,
"They come in through GamerGate,
then we get them turned on to Trump."
That was his idea.
[crowd cheering]
I will never let you be
the forgotten people again.
We're the forgotten people.
[crowd cheering]
I will never let you down.
I promise.
I will never ever let you down.
[ominous distortion plays and fades out]
What would America look like
with an ascendant alt-right?
With a Trump in the White House
and a Mr. Bannon
as the chief of staff, and...?
[Milo] It would be so much more fun.
It would be full of joy
and mischief and laughter and memes.
More spontaneous.
[Alt] Steve Bannon knew a good thing
when he saw it.
And by activating what he called
the "rootless white males,"
in his own words, of 4chan,
he turned them into a political force
to be reckoned with.
It played out this way
in Japan back in 2002,
with these politicized 2channel users
known as the Net Right,
who felt that their own country wasn't
doing enough to make Japan great again.
[Beran] What are 4chan and 8chan
doing to promote Trump?
They're doing the same thing
Anonymous was doing.
Mass pranks, spinning misinformation
into the news cycle,
like rumors that Hillary Clinton is sick.
And they're making memes.
[mysterious synthesizer music playing]
[Beran] Which then spread off the chans
into the mainstream narrative.
These radicalized young men know
that they can poison that well
and spread all this stuff
downstream in the culture.
That's what 4chan was always doing,
but now it was getting
more toxic than ever.
While this is happening, what is
happening on the rest of the internet?
Everyone's experience on the internet
is a monetized corporate form of 4chan.
But it's more dangerous than 4chan
because these newer sites are
better at boosting whatever content
will make people stay on the site longer.
[Brennan] What drives
user-base numbers and revenue is anger.
- [digital whooshing]
- [creepy giggling]
[Beran] So, Facebook or Twitter
is making more money
as users are getting angrier
and becoming glued to the screen.
And so, as the internet gets
4chan-ified, it's easier than ever
to make really dark, disgusting
or screwed up things,
and they can let it spawn in that
environment until it spreads everywhere.
Go ahead.
[crowd cheering]
[newscaster] The Fox News decision desk
has called Donald Trump
the 45th president of the United States,
winning the most surreal election
we have ever seen.
[music fades out]
[Housh] With moot, I did find it really
funny that when we all started to leave
and all he was left with
was the Nazis... that he quit.
Having an angry mob of 25 million people
who disagree with
everything you do is never very fun.
It's not even that I'm burnt out.
It's that I've probably gone through
like five burnouts at this point.
[somber music playing]
[Alt] He had founded 4chan as this haven
for people who loved stuff from Japan,
and who loved internet hijinks.
He wasn't in it for politics.
[Beran] Moot is exasperated,
and he announces
that he's leaving the site.
His parting advice
is that you shouldn't actually be
on the internet that much.
He says, go out and live your life.
There's now a meme for it, "touch grass."
[moot] For people who are angry
on the internet, I really, truly hope that
you one day find the beauty
in not allowing strangers
and things outside
your control to rile you up.
I'm sure you'll add a few extra years to
your life by keeping your heart rate down.
[Beran] But the user base, I think, wanted
to drag the site in another direction.
[somber music continues]
[Beran] After Trump wins the election,
the people on 4chan and 8chan spreading
viral misinformation feel empowered.
It worked, so they keep doing it.
[man 1] After it happened
and Trump became president,
I was totally shocked.
I was reading the New York Times.
They projected Hillary at
90-something-percent to win.
No one thought this could
happen from the very beginning,
and it did.
At the time,
I was a freshman in New York City.
I did swing left. Really far left.
They were painting Trump out
like he was going to be
some second coming of Hitler.
To someone as ignorant as I was at 18, 19,
believing that stuff was horrifying.
On Election Day, my friends are like,
"We're doing this march."
"We're going to Trump Tower."
[protestors chanting] Fuck your wall!
[Isaac] It was all-out madness.
[protestors chanting] Fuck Donald Trump!
Fuck Donald Trump!
[Isaac] People yelling and screaming.
[protestors chanting] New York hates you!
New York hates you!
It was just total rage.
[man 2] Set it on fire!
[woman] Let it all burn!
[Isaac] Being in that mob,
it was so hateful,
and it sort of hit me
like a wrecking ball all at once,
realizing, like, hey,
this isn't what I signed up for.
- [man 3] Whose streets?
- [all] Our streets!
[Isaac] There was a shift,
and a lot of it had to do with
just being extremely curious.
When you're that young,
you want to change the world.
It's that same thing of,
like, this country is corrupt
and something needs to be done about it.
With Trump, we have
this new guy in charge saying,
"We're going to drain the swamp."
We're gonna drain the swamp of Washington.
We're gonna have fun doing it.
We're all doing it together.
It gave people some sort of hope
that the world could change.
[upbeat music playing]
A lot of Trump's mega fans felt
that when he was in the White House,
he would have some kind
of clandestine plan
to bring all these people to justice.
[Isaac] But that hope of a radical change
that had been promised repeatedly
never seemed to happen
or come into fruition.
That's when one of the early
Q posts came up on my radar.
Someone with the name Q put out a post,
and it would have the same phrase
Trump would tweet ten minutes later.
Like, how did they predict
President Trump's Twitter?
That's just, like, nuts.
So, it's like, "Let's just show
this to people. This is crazy."
This was posted in 4chan.
So, Q posted the triple-plus,
and Donald Trump, seven minutes later,
tweeted the triple-plus.
So we know for a fact that Q is real.
[Isaac] And within,
you know, a day or two,
I have 20,000 views,
a flood of comments that are all positive.
- And it's just this whirlwind of, like...
- [music ends]
"What did I just do?"
You know? "What have I stumbled on?"
[mysterious music playing]
[Isaac] The whole idea was, like,
"There's this person on the inside
who's sort of leaving us breadcrumbs."
So, he's giving us breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs.
I'm giving you all my breadcrumbs,
the whole entire way.
[Isaac] And it's like, you guys
aren't getting the real story.
Here's what's going on behind the scenes.
[Brennan] Trump wanted people
to think that he had a plan.
He set people up to feel like
this kind of person would emerge.
[Isaac on YT] This is his team here.
I'm guessing Q is one of these people.
We have Kushner here,
but look at all the thumbs.
All the thumbs up,
they connect to make an actual Q.
So that was the first hint we got.
[Isaac] The YouTube channel
was growing like wildfire.
This never happened
in the history of the world,
and it's all happening
because of the internet.
Share the stream, tweet it out,
do whatever you want to do.
Spread the information,
that's what QAnon asks us to do.
[woman 1] Q is a patriot.
We know that for sure.
Many of the things that he has
given clues about and talked about
on 4chan and other forums,
um, have really proven to be true.
[newscaster 1] There was a curious sight
at last night's Trump rally in Tampa.
The letter Q was everywhere.
[newscaster 2] What was once
a baseless conspiracy theory
has become a mainstream online cult.
Q is about getting to the truth.
[woman 2] He knows a lot of
the secrets that they have,
and that's why he's such a threat to them.
The information he has
given us has been extraordinary.
It was a very diverse group,
but ultimately,
they're just normal people.
You know? They have jobs,
they have kids, they have families.
They're... They're working people.
[Beran] When you talk to people
who support QAnon,
they need some way of expressing
that they got the short end of the stick.
You have an elite group of people getting
richer and richer using mainstream media
to say, "Everything's fine.
Don't worry about it."
"I know life is getting tougher for you."
"That's the truth.
We represent the truth."
Well, what happens is people
begin to hate the truth.
And they end up doing
the same thing that 4chan people did.
They start falling into the internet,
falling into fantasy.
Those smart people at the top,
they're using the truth
to beat me over the head.
So, I'll invent my own truth.
It doesn't have to be true,
it just has to feel right.
And little by little, that quote,
unquote "truth" just sounded deranged.
If you're not familiar with the
conspiracy theory, it goes like this.
They think that President Trump
is engaged in a secret war
against Satanic pedophiles
in the Democratic Party and Hollywood.
Hillary Clinton is a Luciferian,
Satanist, and so are the Rothschilds.
So are the rest of the cabal.
Open your eyes to what's really going on.
Oprah Winfrey?
You really think
we can trust Oprah Winfrey?
These people are trying to drink blood.
Why do they do it?
It's actually a drug,
it's called adrenochrome.
It gives them energy. It makes
them feel a little younger, right?
So it's not like
they're doing it for no reason.
This myth becomes a meme
as it grows in popularity,
as people begin to believe it,
but 4chan knows that what they're doing
is they're putting old 4chan jokes
in the thing that they're making up.
For example, CP,
that's a code for child pornography.
So, anything that started
with those letters,
cheese pizza, Christopher Poole,
Captain Picard,
these were all old-school 4chan memes.
[man] Raise your hand
if you're a pedophile.
- Oh, right. Yes.
- [all laughing]
[Beran] It's, you know,
pure adolescent nonsense
that was far removed
from what they were joking about.
But it grows into
this outlandish horror story
- that a lot of people believe.
- [music ends]
[journalist] You are
secretly saving the world
from this Satanic cult of pedophiles
and cannibals.
Does that sound like something
you are behind?
Well, I haven't...
I haven't heard that, but, uh...
is that supposed
to be a bad thing or a good thing?
New York City, do not
let them normalize pedophilia.
Hollywood is trying
to normalize pedophilia.
QAnon started trying to absorb
the iconography, the lingo,
the messaging tactics of Anonymous.
And I took that personally.
[water bubbling]
[somber music playing]
[Kirtaner] You know? I was out of
the game a couple of years at that point.
And I tried to ignore them
as much as possible,
but it became a self-propagating troll.
Your great-grandma's knitting group
was all of a sudden talking
about Q and saving the children.
Q was just a whole bunch
of trolls who were, like,
"Look at all these fools. They believe it.
They actually honestly believe this,
and, God, ain't this funny, everybody?"
[Fuxnet] And the only way
that you can really get there
is if you're an asshole that wants
to make people believe
that their thoughts,
their interpretations
of reality are not true,
and that's harmful. [chuckling]
That's harmful to everybody.
All of us who had built the culture
started seeing our work being used
by people we utterly despised.
And because we all left the chan culture,
there was no one there pushing back.
We've all participated
in undermining reality
with our silly jokes
and the conspiracy theories.
But we never wanted things
to turn into a living cartoon.
[protestors clamoring]
And we have to understand we have
awoken in the midst of a nightmare!
But we can fight this!
- [no audible dialogue]
- [protestors shouting]
[Kirtaner] Unfortunately,
when you are that far gone,
there's nothing really you can do.
All you can do is cross your fingers
and hope that eventually
they will realize that...
"I've been conned."
[no audible dialogue]
[Isaac] I was convinced
that it was a real thing.
But eventually Q started
getting a couple things wrong.
[somber music continues]
There were, like, dates given,
and then it would never happen.
[Isaac on YT] Like I said, QAnon, right?
He said March 9th.
It's March 20th, guys. Okay?
Little things like that
kept happening again and again.
We know the storm is upon us.
What else do you want me to say?
These people are going to get arrested.
There was this big kind of powwow
live stream with all the Q influencers,
kind of like a sales pitch.
[man 1] It doesn't matter if it's real.
It's better than Game of Thrones.
It's better than House of Cards,
better than Walking Dead.
It is the most entertaining thing
on the internet.
[man 2] The content
he's discussing is real.
Whether Q himself is real or not,
the content he's discussing
is 100% genuine.
[man 1] Yeah.
[Isaac] Eventually I learned that many
of the individuals in that live stream
were actually behind the QAnon posts.
And they were just
some dudes in a basement
who gained legitimacy
by predicting those Trump tweets.
[Beran] Q never predicted
any of Donald Trump's tweets.
Trolls simply doctored the
timestamps to make it seem that way.
QAnon followers
saw what they wanted to see,
and they just ran with the lie.
[overlapping digital chatter]
[Isaac] I think it really
took advantage of people that
were looking for answers about themselves,
about the world around them.
- [creaking]
- [whooshing]
[Isaac] It just got
to a point where I was like,
"Okay, I have to tell
these people this is not real."
[Isaac on YT] So,
today's the day that Q dies.
The group behind QAnon is a bunch
of manipulative 8chan scammers.
They were using me
to push the Q narrative,
and it's not good to have this false hope,
and the truth needs to come out.
- [ominous music playing]
- [Isaac] It wasn't well-received at all.
It was a mountain of dislikes
and hate comments.
It was really like me talking to a wall.
There's nothing I could have said.
Once you really realize it's phony,
nothing's gonna happen,
you know, you kind of think like,
what is going to happen to these people?
[newscaster] The authorities in Nevada
say a man barricaded himself
in an armored vehicle
near the Hoover Dam bridge this afternoon,
demanding President Trump release reports.
Reports about what, he did not say.
[newscaster 2] The man accused
of murdering reputed mob boss
Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali
appearing in court today.
[newscaster 3] Comello held up
his hand in court,
his palm filled with scribblings,
including a reference
to a conspiracy theory.
[newscaster 4] Parker Police said
she believed her child had been taken
by a Satanic pedophilia ring of Democrats.
[YouTuber] This is ridiculous.
What this is, folks,
this is Douglas County getting caught
being a child sex trafficking ring
and trying to go after
the person that's outing them.
[Beran] Things were
teetering on a precipice
and the 2020 election
pushed things over the edge.
[distorted digital burst]
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. is elected
the 46th president of the United States.
This is a major fraud on our nation.
We were getting ready
to win this election.
Frankly, we did win this election.
[audience cheering]
[newscaster 1] President Trump appeared
in public and falsely claimed
that he won the 2020 election.
He is still showing no signs
of conceding any time soon.
[protestors chanting] Stop the steal!
Stop the steal!
We're here to tell them that they're not
stealing our republic from us!
[Beran] It was another denial of reality.
Reconciling Trump's loss
with a win by creating a fantasy
that he, in fact, has won.
If we look into the way voter fraud
is being conducted,
the way people are throwing away ballots,
these people are going down, you guys,
because these people are cowards,
they're a bunch of child molesters.
[newscaster 2] "Stop the steal"
has swept across inboxes,
Facebook pages, and Twitter
like an out-of-control virus.
There was this moment that
I don't see written about a lot,
leading up to January 6th,
of incredible tension.
They need to stop the steal tomorrow!
Stop the steal!
[all chanting] Stop the steal!
Everyone felt it in the air. We didn't
know what was going to happen.
[all chanting] Stop the steal!
[Beran] Anything could happen.
[distorted digital humming]
[horns honking]
[woman on PA] Delta Airlines
is paging Fight For Trump.
Fight For Trump.
[passengers chanting] Fight for Trump!
Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!
[all cheering]
The most important day right now
in modern political history is upon us.
The power is in your hands.
[protestors] One, two, three, four.
[Beran] It was
an internet-generated event.
What's up, people? Where you guys from?
Let me know. Please tag, people.
I'm gonna walk you guys...
I'm gonna walk you
all the way out to the crowds.
[Beran] It's people who love Christ,
people who love Trump,
people who are just conservatives,
conspiracy theorists,
people who are totally deranged,
and they're all glomming together,
and the radical acceptance of all of that,
because they believed
in this mass delusion.
[man 1] They're storming the Capitol!
Hell yeah!
It was wild, you know?
We'd never seen anything like it.
There is no historical parallel
to the storming of the US Capitol.
[protestors clamoring]
But at the time,
I wasn't surprised at all.
[all shouting and cheering]
[Beran] I'm a reporter,
and I was actually there.
I wandered in the crowd,
like, up the Capitol Hill, to the...
part where the Capitol begins,
and it's shrouded in tear gas and smoke.
[tear gas firing]
[Beran] And I go around, and I'm like,
"Excuse me, sir.
Why are you invading the Capitol?"
[man 1] We all feel like,
you know, it was fraud,
and with the evidence and everything...
And everyone has a little different,
precious, deranged internet conspiracy.
[man 2] If you don't know what
an obelisk is, do some research.
It's Satan's penis, basically.
But, anyway, look it up.
Then you gotta ask yourself,
"Why is it in Washington, DC?"
Each one is different.
[man 3] The Great Reset?
[Beran] Yeah.
[man 3] That's when we go
to a digital currency
and a one-world government.
The next person
would be totally different.
[man 4] Governor Wolf, in Pennsylvania,
shuts my fucking restaurant down.
Fuck you, Governor Wolf.
And I would ask them,
"What are you reading?"
[Beran] Is there a certain place where
you get your information on Trump?
[man 5] Yeah, Facebook and Parler.
[Beran] There had not been
a revolution like this before.
It felt new.
It felt like a product of the internet.
A product of social media.
[man 6 on radio] I'm the guy
with the mask on. Where are you?
Cobra, over and out.
[man 7] Break through!
[all shouting and clamoring]
[glass shattering]
- [woman] Whoo!
- [protestors yelling]
- [protestors chanting] Stop the steal!
- [alarm beeping]
[Brennan] Once all of these Trump people
raid the building, and they're all inside,
they don't just walk over the stanchion
or, like, over the velvet red rope.
They walk along it,
even though
they have to go into a little line.
A lot of them were acting like tourists.
They just...
"Whoa. We did it." You know?
Like, total just big-eyed deer
in headlights, a lot of them.
[unsettling music playing]
[Beran] They were surprised themselves.
It was as if
they were wanderers in a dream.
And to me, that spoke to their...
deep delusion.
They were enacting something
that was a fantasy on the internet.
And that it was far removed from
the reality of what they were doing.
They were filming themselves.
Putting themselves back on the internet
as they were doing this
from this closed loop. [chuckling]
Can I speak to Pelosi?
Yeah? We're coming, bitch!
[cameraman] Whose office is this?
Is it on the door? [laughing]
Oh, my God.
[unsettling music rising]
[music ends abruptly]
[mouse clicking]
[Fuxnet] Some of us who started this
whole long unfortunate series of events
had to sit there and watch it happen.
"No. This is where
this needs to fucking stop."
[protestors chanting] USA!
[man] Fuck yeah!
[Kirtaner] All these people that were
emboldened in the moment,
they all tried to scrub what they could
from the internet.
[newscaster] The FBI spent
the past week trying to identify
and locate the people involved
in last week's violence and unrest.
So far, more than 70 people
are facing federal charges,
but many more walking around,
blending into our communities
and evading charges.
The FBI needs your help to find them.
[pensive music playing]
The first time I heard that Kirt
might be coming back,
my first thought was just...
It was utter joy.
This guy is an outright old-school troll
with the skill set needed
to cause some trouble.
[Kirtaner] So, myself
and a few other people got to work.
Parler was a social network
that was used during January 6th.
We were able to download the entirety
of all media that was posted that day.
And on top of that,
who they were communicating with,
where they went after the fact,
where they came from.
All of it was right there,
ripe for the taking,
and we pulled it all down
and released it to the public.
[digital whirring]
[Kirtaner] Anonymous
de-anonymized everybody.
[music fades out]
[Kirtaner] It was poetry in motion.
This is the environment that I thrive in.
I'm just like, who's next, right?
The hacking group Anonymous
stole tons of data
from a site that hosts extremist
and racist groups.
[Kirtaner] Epik hosting,
their client base includes InfoWars,
the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys.
- It's a who's who of hate groups.
- [mysterious music playing]
[Kirtaner] All of their customer data,
their credit card numbers,
personal information,
was all released by Anonymous.
It was one of the biggest hacks
that people had seen in a decade.
Law enforcement's involved,
and we're going to find
exactly how it was moved.
No, I'm not in a state of denial.
Come on, bro.
[Kirtaner] When you get
on a good win streak,
you know, you're riding high, you know,
you kind of get carried away.
There's kind of an intoxicating aspect
to the attention
that you can get from hacking.
It can trick you into thinking
you're fighting for good.
But in reality, you're just high
off the feeling of having power.
[ominous music playing]
[Kirtaner] When you're behind a screen,
you could wake up one day and say,
"You know what?"
"Today, I'm gonna be the asshole."
And you can just go out there,
and you could get it
out of your fucking system,
and see what happens.
[Fuxnet] It happened with the FBI raids.
It happened with QAnon.
You can still see it today.
I did indeed discover
Donald Trump's Twitter password,
which was Maga2020
with an exclamation mark.
And he changed a single digit to Maga2024.
That was the password for realDonaldTrump.
I had that shit.
I only know that was his Twitter password.
I don't know if it's his password anywhere
else. I did not go to check...
I would never, ever encourage people
to go do anything,
but minor variations
on that password work in a lot of places.
[Stephen Colbert] Former President Trump
just launched his new social media app,
Truth Social.
The site was briefly accessible
to the public last night
and was immediately overrun by trolls
that posted a photo of a pig defecating
on its own scrotum.
[audience laughing]
It's pretty funny. We got
piggy poop balls on The Colbert Show.
[Fuxnet] Throughout the years,
there have been countless people
who tried to take the reins of Anonymous,
but they have not learned from
the mistakes that we made in the past.
Activism should come from
a place of understanding
more so than just anger or fear
or especially self-aggrandization.
We actually haven't heard Anonymous
in a while, to tell you the truth,
but what can you tell us about this hack?
[Fuxnet] Because of
the attention you can gain
through these tactics,
it can have a way of corrupting people.
[shouting] I am literally
in every mainstream media publication
for the things that I do!
I'm not an unknown actor!
I'm literally
a famous fucking cyberterrorist!
And you think that you could scare me?
What are you gonna do?
What are you gonna do to me, huh?
[birds chirping]
[approaching footsteps]
[chatter on police radio]
[Kirtaner] It was around
11:00 in the morning.
Couple of cops come around the corner.
They served me a warrant.
And, "We're here to search your premises."
"We're from the, uh,
Ontario Police Cyber Crimes Division."
I wasn't charged, I wasn't detained,
but now I'm being investigated for...
some alleged online activities.
[ominous music playing]
They're hauling out my computers, any
hard drive storage devices they can find.
And then towards the end, they're like,
"Does he have a Guy Fawkes mask in there?"
"Oh, yeah. He's got a Guy Fawkes mask."
I am in a very similar situation
as Jeremy Hammond was.
And that's absolutely fucking terrifying
because, well,
Hammond went to prison for a decade.
[Fuxnet] What's ironic about 4chan,
or any of these digital spaces,
is that people went there
to feel less alone,
but these spaces only simulate community.
[unsettling music playing]
[Fuxnet] It feels like you're fulfilling
your wildest fantasies, but in fact,
you're just experiencing
less and less of life.
You feel like you have it all,
when, in fact, you have nothing.
You're just alone together.
[melancholy music playing]
[music fades out]
[insects chittering]
[Fuxnet] This is the kind of place where,
like, you're walking around people,
they'll make eye contact with you.
They want that, "How you doing?"
[Hatesec] Yeah, that's nice.
[Fuxnet] As far as the FBI stuff went,
I got out of it unscathed,
with no charges or anything like that.
The people that I was staying with
when I was on my trip around the country
were people
that I've known since the '90s,
that I met in anime chat rooms,
and had not met them at all
until I left on the run.
Anonymous was never this mythical unicorn
of an organization
that could fix all of our problems.
People just believed that it was.
[all singing] Never gonna run around
And desert you
Never gonna make you cry
[Fuxnet] I think I have an understanding
of how some of our actions in the past,
whether we like it or not, have affected
the reality of things today.
[newscaster 1] Police say he posted
a document showing
support for racist conspiracy theories.
[newscaster 2] The Guardian reports
4chan has inspired
at least three other
mass casualty attacks,
including a shooting
in D.C. just last month.
[man 1] There has been a string of
fake mass shootings with crisis actors...
[man 2] The Jews want to replace
white people because they hate us.
[man 3] Do your own research
and find out for yourself.
[woman 1] Leaders
shape-shift into reptiles.
[woman 2] They're always
eating these children.
[woman 3] Of course it's not fake, okay?
[mystical music playing]
[Beran] We now know that if you spend
a lot of time on the screen,
you can create a mass delusion,
that reality parts from where you are,
and you can create
something elaborate in your mind
that is delicate and complicated,
and it can be
this really fascinating thing,
and you can spend all day
obsessing about it with other people.
It can feel real as anything else.
- [mystical music continues]
- [door slamming]
[Beran] But what we're doing is building
these elaborate grotesque fantasies
out of our own unhappiness.
[Alt] Our current moment
is really about us as humans.
And how we're only
just starting to learn the effects
of these tools that we all use.
We didn't evolve
to be online all the time.
This is an absolutely new moment
for the human animal.
- [unsettling digital effects]
- [distorted laughter]
[Alt] And figuring out
how we use these tools,
that's the question of the next century.
[unsettling music playing]
[music distorting]
[music fades out]
[somber music playing]
[upbeat music playing]
[music fades out]