Amidst the emotional turmoil of Jacob Limberios' second exhumation, Twitter users claiming to be part of the Internet group Anonymous have initiated a social media onslaught, demanding truth and justice.
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Less than 24 hours before the Wednesday unearthing, a YouTube video surfaced featuring the group's trademark persona: the lead character from the movie "V For Vendetta" speaking with a computer-enhanced voiceover.
"We are Anonymous. We have come together to demand the truth," the voice states. "We shall find justice."
The voiceover script goes on to warn officials involved in "massive public corruption" that "there will be consequences for your actions."
A 2 p.m. tweet from popular Twitter user @Anon_WV dubbed the movement #OpJusticeForJake. On Twitter, hashtags are a way to categorize messages and indicate popular search phrases in a tweet.
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Many other Twitter users, some claiming to be part of Anonymous, repeated the message in hundreds of separate tweets, likely in an attempt to attract nationwide attention to Jacob's death.
Anonymous is a loosely organized group of undisclosed Internet users that strongly opposes censorship and surveillance. Its members — often dubbed a "hacktivist" group — have hacked several government websites and banded together for various causes.
Most recently, the group leaked private information concerning a 2012 Steubenville rape case.
After demanding an apology from school officials and local authorities — who allegedly covered up the incident to protect athletes involved in the rape — an offshoot of Anonymous posted a video of the perpetrators making jokes about the incident. They were soon found guilty.
Given the nature of the group, it's hard to tell how far-reaching its efforts can go or who all is involved. The "official" Anonymous news Twitter account, with more than 1 million followers, has not yet tweeted about Jacob. Some skeptics have claimed the recent video and its following tweets aren't legitimate, but those who have experience working with Anonymous say that's hardly the case.
"From what I am told, it is legit," said Alexandria Goddard, a blogger who helped uncover the Steubenville case. "From my experience, there are no 'fake' Anon video responses."
Anyone can be "Anonymous" if they choose to do so because the group has no hierarchy or structure, Goddard said. The users spread information exponentially using social media to gather support for social issues.
"Anons follow other Anons and will re-tweet information that appears on their timelines," she said. "Anytime you tweet to someone with many followers and they re-tweet, you are widening your audience."
Brady Gasser, a close friend of Jacob's, refused to talk in-depth about the video and social media movement. He answered simply with two words: "It's legit."
The Register contacted Twitter user @Anon_WV Wednesday through a direct message on Twitter. The user explained Anonymous members are not necessarily trying to attract anyone's attention, but "simply want the justice system to do its job."
"My original goal was simply to ensure that Mike (Limberios, father to Jacob) was not alone in protecting Jake's grave," the user explained. "On further study some inconsistencies in the investigation were noted. Our Anonymous members joined in and created a video. At that point it became an operation, #OpJusticeForJake."
The user cited Anonymous' role in kickstarting protests that improved the investigation of the Steubenville rape case. It continued, "We threaten nobody. We are completely peaceful. We seek a better world, the one we were all promised."
Its final warning: "We are watching. We expect justice or you Expect Us."
Jacob was shot and killed March 2, 2012. Sandusky County officials ruled the death a suicide, but a forensic pathologist hired by the Limberios family examined the body and determined it was a homicide.
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