YouTube videos for an operation called Invade Wall Street first appeared on Monday, calling for online activists to download specific software necessary to carry out a denial of service attack against the New York Stock Exchange on October 10. One video, titled "A Message to the Media," said the group had chosen "to declare war against the New York Stock Exchange," adding, "on October 10th, NYSE shall be erased from the Internet." The video carries the Anonymous logo and comes from a YouTube user called The Anonymous Message. The same user has uploaded 13 other videos since joining YouTube in July, including a threat last week to carry out a cyber-attack of the New York Police Department which doesn't seem like it happened.
But on Twitter, where the #InvadeWallStreet hashtag first gained traction on Monday via Anonymous-related accounts, a backlash now warns would-be participants that the attack is a set-up aimed at reaping bad press for Anonymous and the Occupy Wall Street protest. A widely circulated statement warns that "many of our brothers and sisters have gone down in the fight for using such tactics, like the WikiLeaks defendants who took down Visa, Paypal, and Mastercard which led to mass arrests." Another points out that the video "proposes you use depreciated tools that have known flaws," such as a low-orbit ion cannon, a denial of service tool Anonymous members have been busted for using.
A Twitter account called AnonyOps, which has approximated an official Anonymous mouthpiece in the past, broadcast this message on Tuesday: "#invadewallstreet #IWS possibly a psyop? ... Don't get roped in by those who want 2 see #occupywallstreet fail." Others passed around links to a Daily Kos article suggesting police had infiltrated the crowd that marched onto the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, and a March story from the Guardian about the U.S. military developing weaponized sock puppets (Internet slang for made-up propaganda accounts). Most warning against the protest simply pointed out that it's not the kind of action that's going to get people on their side -- a marked departure from the brazen attitude of Operation Payback, the massive DDOS attack that gained Anonymous its fame. Then there's the obvious flaw with the Oct. 10 plan: It's Columbus Day, and while the markets are open,* many banks are closed and trading is generally light.
The Invade Wall Street operation smacks of the empty threat that was OpFacebook. But an attack on the stock exchange's website could still happen, if enough viewers of the YouTube video follow the on-screen directions. If it does, most of Anonymous would like you to know they had nothing to do with it.
*Correction: This report originally stated that the NYSE closed on Columbus Day. It does not.