"We never stopped watching you. We know who you are... The privacy of the Ku Klux Klan no longer exists in cyberspace."
These are the words of Anonymous, as posted this week in an open letter addressed to America's most infamous hate group — and if the promises made in that letter come to fruition as planned, the hacktivists may be right.
At least in regards to the approximately 1,000 Klan members Anonymous claims to have identified by gaining access to a KKK Twitter account.
We've gained access to yet another KKK Twitter account. Using the info obtained, we will be revealing about 1000 klan member identities.— @Operation_KKK
According to a Twitter account dedicated to Operation KKK, the name Anonymous has given the attack, the names will be released next month around the anniversary of 2014's mass riots over a grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting of Michael Brown.
The date is significant in that it coincides with Anonymous' first organized "hoods off" operation and public spat with the Klan.
As The Guardian reported in November of 2014, Anonymous started taking action against the KKK after the white supremacist group threatened to use "lethal force" against Ferguson protesters.
The KKK threats were made both online, and in a series of flyers allegedly distributed around St. Louis by members of a Missouri-based KKK chapter.
Using the hashtags #OpKKK and #hoodsoff, Anonymous began on Nov. 14 of last year doxxing alleged Ferguson-area Klan members (that is, releasing photos of and personal information about them to the public).
"Our Kommunity is not at all scared of the threats from anonymous," read a message posted by one of the KKK's main Twitter accounts on Nov. 16. "Just try us. You'll regret it. #OpKKK #KKK #WhitePrideWorldWide"
By Monday evening, Nov. 17, that account (@KuKluxKlanUSA) and one other (@YourKKKCentral) had been seized by the hacktivist collective. One of the Ku Klux Klan's websites had also been taken offline.
As of October, 2015, both accounts still remain under Anon's control. Little has been posted to either since 2014, however, and many had assumed the battle was over.
The message Anonymous published to PasteBin on Tuesday indicates otherwise.
"You are abhorrent. Criminal. You are more than extremists. You are more than a hate group," the statement read. "You operate much more like terrorists and you should be recognized as such. You are terrorists that hide your identities beneath sheets and infiltrate society on every level."
After further elaborating on this point, the group makes a pledge that is now being echoed in news headlines around the world:
"We will release, to the global public, the identities of up to 1000 klan members, Ghoul Squad affiliates and other close associates of various factions of the Ku Klux Klan across the Unites States."
It remains to be seen if this will actually happen, but many online are watching closely — and encouraging the hacktivists to go through with their newest iteration of #OppKKK.
While the @Operation_KKK Twitter account (and many others affiliated with the group) has been almost gleefully bigging up what is alleged to be happening next month, Anonymous has been adamant about the fact that it does not promote violence.
"The aim of this operation is digital. Another cyber war trist, nothing more. We are not violent," reads the PasteBin document. This sentiment has also been reiterated on the operation's Twitter account several times.
"To the Citizens of the World: We stand with you always, against oppression and injustice," reads the conclusion of the now-viral message shared by Anonymous on Tuesday. "The anons participating in Operation KKK believe that it is a civic responsibility to be conscious and self-critical of our society in order to improve upon the shape of things to come."
"To those that really disagree with us: Sorry for the inconvenience, but not really. We are trying to change our world."