Barrett Brown, Public Face of Anonymous, Leaves Group

Barrett Brown, the reporter who became a media-friendly spokesperson for the shadowy hacking group Anonymous says that he is quitting the group in the wake of a public feud that has broken out between different hacker factions within the loosely organized collective.

AnonymousBarrett Brown, the reporter who became a media-friendly spokesperson for the shadowy hacking group Anonymous says that he is quitting the group in the wake of a public feud that has broken out between different hacker factions within the loosely organized collective.

Brown told Threatpost that he and around two dozen Anonymous members are forming a splinter group to focus on efforts to root out what Brown has described as “criminality and corruption” within the U.S. Government, U.S. military, corporations and the media.

Brown, a journalist and author, has been the public face and chief apologist from the anarchic and leaderless group during recent controversies, including the hack of security firm HBGary. He said recent feuds between different Anonymous factions, culminating in the recent takeover of two IRC chat servers used by the group convinced him that the group had lost its way.

“I’m tired of the drama,” Brown told Threatpost in a phone interview May 10. “You’ve got kids fighting for control of an IRC channel. I’m a researcher. I’m into revolutionary stuff. But there are other people for whom its about exerting power,” he said.

Brown told Threatpost he is defecting with what he claims are around two dozen Anonymous members. He said he planned to focus on Project PM – an effort to create an umbrella group that will support other organizations that want to expose pro-government and pro-corporate bias in the media.

The parting of ways between Brown and the allegedly “leaderless” group comes at a perilous time. Recent months have seen defectors from the group publish potentially damaging information that could be used to identify active members. In March, a splinter group calling itself Backtrace Security published a document that claimed to identify or partially identify 80 members of Anonymous’s leadership. The group launched OpSony in April to retaliate against Sony’s legal pursuit of hackers, like George Hotz, who had circumvented security features of PlayStation devices. A massive compromise of Sony’s PlayStation Network followed, which Anonymous has steadfastly denied responsibility for. Then, in May, a feud erupted between high-level members of Anonymous that led to the hostile takeover of two Web domains used by the group to host IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Subsequent to the takeover, an Anonymous administrator known as “Ryan” spilled information online that could, potentially, be used to link participants in Anonymous online chats with individuals in the real world. Anonymous members have since been forced to shift their activities to IRC forums not hosted on and, both of which were taken over by “Ryan.”

Brown’s relations with Anonymous’s membership was testy at times. Within the last year, he had transitioned from a journalist covering Anonymous’s activities for publications like The Huffington Post to an informal spokesman for the group: giving interviews with the press and writing press releases. His frequent mentions in the press, where he was occasionally identified as Anonymous’s spokesman, drew the ire of other Anonymous members whyo accused him variously of hogging the spotlight and drawing unwanted attention to the group. Brown, himself, disavowed any leadership role in the group, which he maintained was leaderless. However others, notably Aaron Barr of HBGary, have contested the idea that the group lacks a hierarchy and established leadership.

Anonymous observers, who asked to remain anonymous themselves, said there’s reason to believe that Brown is being cut off by core Anonymous members worried about having their identities exposed, or wary of Brown’s focus on government wrongdoing. Sources say that ongoing criminal investigations of Anonymous’s previous actions may soon produce indictments and that more than one longtime member has “gone dark” in recent weeks, especially after the group was mentioned as a possible source of the PlayStation Network breach.

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  • JAG on

    Pro-government and pro-corporate bias from what..  media corporations?  Wow.  Who could have imagined.  I bet he has a pro-personal bias too.  Nothing like watchin a fella swat at the universe and wonder why it's still there. 

    I have yet to see these monkeys attack jihadist or communist organizations.  That is the polar opposite of what they say they're about.  Maybe one day they'll have a moment of clarity and grow a pair.  Until then, they are just kids fingerpainting in their own feces.


  • Anonymous on

    This is a STUPID "news" article. Who cares about and who should care about hackers. Let them live in the shadows, thats where they operate anyway. Publicizing these events is lame. I would think Threatpost would have beeter things to do than lend to such a retarded topic such as someone leaving a group of hackers. Jesus!

  • Anonymous on

    Good riddance.

  • Anonymous on

    Now barrett can have his little group that suck his dick that's all he wants Anonymous never asked him to be there spokesman we don't need that like we don't need leaders. You are to stuppid to see that you don't need leaders, spokeman or any clarification of anonymous action the action on it self is the explaination. If we got news you will now it, if you feel hurt you know the hive has sting you.


    We are anonymous
    We are Legion
    We do not forgive
    We do not forget

    Expect us.

  • masterofmanythings on

    seems barret brown is trying to turn anonymous into his own soap opera! i support anonymous via info repost staying far enough away not to have any details so that if questioned it would be impossible to leak any info. i would worry about barrets intergrity if questioned as a former pot dealer i know a weasel when i see one.

  • Anonymous on

    Brown was never a member of Anonymous.

    We know who he is.

    Therefore, by definition, he is not Anonymous.

  • Anonymous on

     I took note of what Greg Hoglund (Hoaglund?) said after HBGary got attacked and it is clear to me that his words were not an idle threat.

    “They didn’t just pick on any company, but we try to protect the US government from hackers,” he said. “They couldn’t have chosen a worse company to pick on.”

    None of what has transpired at Anonymous since the HBGary attack is just a matter of serendipity.  They're squarely in the crosshairs of an ongoing government op and it's not going to stop until everybody involved is rolled up and put away.

    It's a shame that there's no way to get information important to a democratic society into the open other than as a by-product of a bunch of cyber goons. Maybe Mr. Brown's new group, if it is not torn to shreds by covert government ops, can play the role of the non-destructive "good" hackers.  We'll see.


  • Anonymous on

    I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. If you spend enough time on 4chan where a lot of Anonymous hangs out, you'd see there are some massive egos and rather cavalier people there in it just for the lulz. While "I'm not your private army." is a common comment to hack/harassment requests there are some people who revel in harassment.

    Anyway, good luck to all, I hope you're motivated to stray on the white hat side of the shadowy grey areas.

  • Anonymous on

     AM I THE ONLY ONE NOT ON CRAZY PILLS?!?! Its anonymous! there are no leaders or advisors or bullcrap. honestly, its just people meet people. on the internet. And form groups with fancy sounding names. But this bullshit about forming a "splinter group" or "umbrella group" after "defecting" from FUCKING ANONYMOUS, is completely batshit and it makes me think many people and media outlets have this weird conception of what anonymous is. It's just fucking anyone and everyone on the internet on forum imageboards and chatrooms. Any jackass who thinks he can speak for the WHOLE of anonymous needs to have his ego checked, and these delusions of granduer abandoned. NO ONE GIVES A SHIT THAT YOUR MADE UP REVOLUTION CLUB IS DEFECTING FROM TALKING TO EACH OTHER ON A ANONYMOUS IMAGEBOARD TO CHATTING TOGETHER IN AN INSTANT MESSENGER PROGRAM.

  • Anonymous on


    Well, no problem, Anonymous will just find another A/Vunit to take his place, right?  It's not like Barrett did anything that could get everyone who ever participated in any Anonymous op placed under suspicion of being part of an organized criminal conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, right?  And hey, even if that WERE true, he's quit now, so, the FBI & Co. can just go home now and forget all that, right?  Whew!


  • Anonymous on

    LOL, He mad.  The fearless leaders of anonymous are anonymous and will never show their faces....  lol, so stupid.  Do people understand what the word 'Anonymous' means??

  • Anonymous on

    I agree with this guy ^

  • Anonymous on

    Chief apologist? Anarchic group? How about the dozen or so US companies that illegally tried to cut off Wikileaks funding without a iota of moral and legal justification. Are you the apologist for those? Apparently yes.

  • Kiddo on

    Amazing how the author tries to portry Anonymous as a bad evil entity, full of internal problems, defectors, and whatnot. The author seems to work for the US government, or for HBGary, who illegally tried to smear the media and private citizens in order to discredit Wikileaks and Anonymous, and was caught doing it. Boy, seems the author pissed off at this! Hope he gets his government check for writing this biased slander article.

  • Anonymous on


  • Anonymous on

    I don't understand how people write these sorts of articles about anonymous.  Anonymous isn't organized well enough for this to have any meaning.  Brown's announcement is about as newsworthy as me announcing that I'm going to stop posting comments on slashdot.

  • Anonymous on

    I am new to this venue, but I know the definition of anonymous, and Brown's story does not ring true, especially now.   Just another media tramp!

  • Anonymous on

    Cool story, bro.

  • mach on

    ...and yet he still keeps talking.

  • Anonymous on

    Remember, We are anonymous We are Legion We do not forgive We do not forget Expect us.

  • Anonymous on

    "the recent takeover of two IRC chat servers"


    No such thing has  happened. They were domains, not servers and no such thing as a "web domain" exists. Also, there is a typo in the text. Poor!


  • AnonymousObz on

    Why are you retards hell bent on assuming Anonymous have any kid of leadership within the " ranks "? There is no leader,and whoever think there is,are retarded.

    We couldn't give a crap is barret leaves us,we are more than able to fend for ourselves and have never needed him as much as he thinks we do.Get a grip dumb propaganda specialists.

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