Back in 2013, Anonymous was riding high. The loose hacktivist collective had just carried out a number of high-profile hacks against major targets around the world, it had gained fame by hacking the email inbox of the beleaguered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and it had just raised more than $54,000 (£32,000) via crowdfunding site Indiegogo to turn its YourAnonNews Twitter account into a rolling news service.
One year later, and things aren't looking so good. With a number of arrests striking at the heart of the collective, and the FBI's cyber division chief claiming to have "dismantled" Anonymous, the last thing they needed was for their news channel to run into problems.
But then the $54,000 raised on Indiegogo went missing.
The loss of the money has led to a widespread disagreement among the group's members, with some founding contributors to YourAnonNews being kicked off its controlling board.
Since its inception, the YourAnonNews Twitter account has been one of the main outlets for news and information about the Anonymous movement. Its associated protests, or "ops", have also been shared, as has an ITProPortal article or two. The account currently has over 1.24 million followers.
According to a document shared online at the weekend, the Indiegogo funds were transferred from Indiegogo to an Anonymous member called Jackal. Much of this was spent on Anonymous merchandise, and a full breakdown can also be found in the document, giving us a glimpse ito just what Anonymous spends its money on.
- $8,775.00 - T Shirts & Hoodies
- $1,087.44 - Mugs
- $ 200.00 - Button & Stickers [Approx]
- $2,071.27 - MacBook Pro [Given to one of YAN's Colorado team members for video work]
- $2,000.00 - Dell Laptop [Approx amount - bought with BTC prior to the campaign for a member of the Colorado YAN team]
- $3,564.00 - Sprout Social [Approx - 8 months of fees for the YAN social media team].
- $1,350.00 - Black Lotus [Approx - 2 months of server costs]
- $ 912.00 - 1 year of DSL service
However, not much of the merchandise ever got shipped out to its buyers, and Jackal was beginning to get cagey about how much money was left. As the community got more and more restless and suspicious, they eventually took a tough decision.
"With not enough solid information with regards to the sum actually accounted to Jackal from Indiegogo, a full and complete list of expenses, and a more exact idea of the sum that was missing, our board quite rightly felt that it needed to sever the last tie to Jackal – his contributor access to the feed."
The Anonymous spokesperson added that "this was particularly distressing for one of our team, who had known Jackal personally for some years, so with one abstention a vote was passed to remove him."
It's unclear what the future of the ANonymous news feed will be. The spokesperson concluded the statement with the following:
"After controlling the feed for much of Friday morning, the two remaining board members, Dell Cameron and Dan Stuckey, decided to hand the password and control of other social media streams to our AnarchoAnon colleagues in Denver. We believe this is the current state of play."
The @YourAnonNews account is still active and tweeting, despite being what the statement called "battered" and "fractured".