But for the targets of Anonymous' operation in Steubenville, it felt defamatory. "A lot of what they were saying wasn't true, and they attacked people," says McCafferty, who was getting death threats on Facebook and having his own email hacked. One private photo of him, taken on a cruise ship, was released showing him in nothing but a lacy thong. "They said that picture was taken at gay bar in Steubenville," McCafferty says, "me and my wife laughed. Who in the hell would walk around downtown Steubenville without shoes on?"
As reports circulated of people, dressed in Guy Fawkes masks, accosting Steubenville locals and throwing rocks at their homes, the backlash set in. "Hey guys," Roseanne Barr tweeted, "let's take a step back 4 a day or 2-we don't want to destroy any more young ppl's lives. Let the police do their duty. #dueprocess."
Lostutter took to the Net, urging people to abide by Jane Doe's wishes. 'This is not what she wants and we don't endorse this," he told them, "This is not Anonymous." But he knew better than anyone that there was little he could do to close Pandora's Box. "Anonymous is the Internet and you can't control the Internet," he says, "…they're fucking renegades, dude, and a lot of them are 15, 16-year-old kids. You can't tell them motherfuckers nothing."
And they were now coming after him. All the attention on KYAnonymous was violating the Anonymous dictum that the group had no leaders. Your Anon News declared that it would no longer be linking to his updates. A group called Team Intricate promised to expose KY's true identity, a threat to which Lostutter challenged them to make good on within 24 hours. The group responded with a full dox on the man they claimed to be him, Kyle Fields. "Kyle Fields is a ego-fag noob," they posted, "This guy does not know the first thing about security." But in fact Fields had been a decoy of Lostutter's, who posted the fake dox himself online early to throw them off his trail. "You fake fuckers!" he replied to the hackers.
But by the time of the second Occupy Steubenville rally, on January 5th, Lostutter was on a full blown misinformation campaign to preserve his identity — both from Anonymous and the Steubenville police. He led people to believe that he was at the rally himself, even though he had not left his home. During an online interview, he talked about how great the snow looked outside his window at the Super 8 hotel Steubenville — which sent hackers scurrying for the Internet Protocol address at that location. Later as the rally got underway, he posted that "I wonder if Sheriff Abdalla knows that I can reach out and tap him on the shoulder right now." Cops began pulling people in Guy Fawkes masks over, trying to find KY — but to no avail.
But all the chaos was wearing on Lostutter. He wasn't sleeping, barely eating, and increasingly prone to panic attacks. One night, he was sitting beside his girlfriend on the couch at home when he saw a Skype interview he had done, in his Fawkes mask and disguised voice, for the Anderson Cooper show on CNN. Hannah had no idea it was him but voiced her support for the protesters and disgust over the rapists. "What they did to that girl was bullshit," she told him.
As much as Lostutter wanted to reveal himself to her that night, to share his stress, his fears, his hopes, he thought better of it. "Everybody in Anonymous gets raided at one point or another if they're halfway even good at what they do," he tells me, "So I knew it would eventually come and the less she knew, the better. The less anybody knew, the better."
Later in January, Lostutter got a tip from someone he trusted online that he was being watched by the FBI. If it was true, it didn't surprise him given his white hot spree of high-profile operations. But he wasn't taking any chances. Logging online as KYAnonymous, he tweeted that he was going dark for a while. Minutes later, he got a cryptic tweet from an unknown account. "Why would you do that, Derek Lostutter of Winchester, Kentucky?" It read.
"Oh fuck," Lostutter thought. No one knew KY's real name. And if they did, why did they wait for this moment to reveal it? Lostutter quickly deleted the message but then another ominous tweet came in. This one included a picture he had previously posted of himself posing in his Guy Fawkes mask. He had taken the shot out by the road, where he happened to be standing next to his Bates Home Security sign. The tweet also included a picture of his farmhouse, taken from the road, with the same sign in front. Whomever did this was clearly sending him a message — they knew who he was and where he lived — and going dark online wouldn't change that.
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