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In the fight against ISIS, is Anonymous the answer?

In the wake of last Friday's attacks in Paris by ISIS militants, the "hacktivist" group Anonymous declared war against ISIS, promising its biggest campaign yet against the Islamist militants. But is it a wise course of action?

Hacktivist group declares war on ISIS, promising biggest campaign yet against Islamist militants

What could happen now that Anonymous has declared war on ISIS? Author Gabriella Coleman takes stock. 7:28

The West wants to put a stop to ISIS. But is Anonymous the answer?

In the wake of last Friday's attacks in Paris by ISIS militants, the "hacktivist" group declared war against ISIS, promising its biggest campaign yet against the Islamist militants.

Anonymous seems like a potent adversary. Like ISIS, the group is shadowy and technologically savvy, perhaps making it the perfect weapon against a terrorist group that uses social media as a recruiting and propaganda tool.

But for Gabriella Coleman, the author of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, the rush to embrace the group could be premature.

"Terrorism is so violent," she said. "And so people get excited by anyone who's sort of trying to fight it, even though it may be not necessarily productive and even slightly counterproductive as well."

Coleman is especially worried about "doxxing," a strategy of uncovering someone's real identity and "outing" them online. Should Anonymous incorrectly identify someone as an ISIS member, the results could be disastrous.

"The stigma can be horrible," Coleman said. "They'll be harassed, the consequences can be very bad." 

And what happens when ISIS tries to identify and target members of Anonymous?

"To me, this is one of the more dangerous strategies that can happen under this so-called war," she said.

Watch the full interview from CBC's The National, including Gabriella Coleman's observations on the strange new "motley crew" of hacktivists joining Anonymous, by clicking here or on the video player on this page.

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