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Missing Money Threatens to Implode Anonymous' Largest Twitter Account

Your Anon News wanted to be a major news outlet, but the dream appears to be dead.
Image: Garry Knight

The largest Anonymous Twitter account, the 1.24 million followers-strong Your Anon News, is on the verge of imploding over an ownership dispute that stems from missing funds equaling $35,000.

Last March, members of the collective held an Indiegogo fundraising campaign in order to start an Anonymous-related news site that according to their Indiegogo page, would “disseminate information”  the collective “viewed as vital, separating it from the political and celebrity gossip than inundates the mainstream."  Besides aggregating news, this new site promised to deliver original, independent reporting through heavy reliance on “Livestreamers,” folks that would broadcast live from major events and protests.

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Anonymous raised a total of $54,668 for this purpose, and everyone patted themselves on the back for a successful fundraising campaign. Then months rolled by without the site actually materializing. Worse, the bulk of the money disappeared, with that $35,000 still unaccounted for today.

The Anonymous-affiliated activist responsible for collecting the funds into his own personal bank account, Christopher Banks, who goes by @JackalAnon on Twitter, has failed to answer questions regarding what happened to the missing funds. @JackalAnon was also the main admin for the @YourAnonNews Twitter stream.

By late November, Banks relinquished control of @YourAnonNews to a dozen activists, including prominent figures in the Anonymous community like Nicole Powers, who does social media and a radio show for Suicide Girls, journalists Dell Cameron and Daniel Stuckey, and the lawyer known for freeing weev, Tor Ekeland, all of whom came to sit on YAN's board. (A regular contributor to Motherboard, Stuckey's only involvement with this article was providing the author with a phone interview last week.) Cameron and co. then organized a separate private fundraiser totaling $9,000 for the sole purpose of sending the people who donated to the original Indiegogo campaign their YourAnonNews t-shirts and other donation perks.

Getting a straight answer out of Banks as to where the YourAnonNews site money went continued to be a challenge. Interview requests with the new YourAnonNews team over what happened to the funds, issued by me, were repeatedly denied, until I spoke with Cameron in person at SXSW in March, and all he was able to tell me was “we don’t know.”

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Which brings us to the present day drama, where the various board members of YourAnonNews Twitter account board ousted Banks from the account completely, after first meeting with a lawyer. This ousting then prompted some members to resign, including Ekeland (out of protest) and Cameron (who was tired of being harassed, including at his place of work).

According to a leaked email about the proceedings written by Cameron, a few members of the YourAnonNews Twitter board attempted to meet with Banks and have him sign a nondisclosure agreement over what happened to the funds. This did not fly well with others, Stuckey explained in a phone interview, because it came across as a “cover-up” to benefit Banks as well as destroy any effort at transparency and what little credibility remained with YourAnonNews. In a Twitter DM, Ekeland countered that it was not a nondisclosure agreement, but "a settlement."

Rather than lay low or go quietly into the night (or answer questions about the missing funds), Banks is now petitioning Twitter to regain sole access over @YourAnonNews. A few members of YourAnonNews that are still active published an open letter on the YourAnonNews Tumblr last night addressed to Twitter, begging the microblogging service deny this request. An excerpt:

This person stole from your community. Not ours. Not Anonymous. But from Twitter. We are not prone to begging, you know that. It’s not our style. But we are asking you, in the most serious way, to not fulfill this request. No one that has abused your service, and misled thousands of your users, for their own personal profit, should be allowed retain control of this account. We would rather see it burnt to the ground…

Do not turn this account over to someone that has used it to steal your users’ money. We fought very hard to remove him. Do not permit this abuse of your service to be repeated.

Twitter was not available for comment at press time, so it is unclear what will happen to @YourAnonNews. Anonymous-friendly Twitter users have taken to advocating that the entire account be deleted or be given to trolling and media prankster groups like the GNAA and Rustle League.

Others are discussing the possibility of legal action, citing a recent development in the crowdfunding landscape that has Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson currently suing a playing card manufacturer for failing to deliver the goods after a successful Kickstarter campaign. As for whether a YourAnonNews site will ever materialize, that seems unlikely at this point. Rustle League leader @meepkittyfuck, in a fit of seriousness, thinks even if the news site was eventually created, “too much time has passed, too much damage has been done to the name that there can be no recovery—the name has been tainted, forever.”

The following correction has been made to this article: *Nicole Powers is not a Suicide Girl, though she runs their social media and works on an affiliated radio show. The post has also been updated to add Ekeland's comment.