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A Facebook page purporting to be that of the Westboro Baptist Church today appeared to have been taken over by hacker movement Anonymous. The truth, as it turns out, was that the collective had created a parody page.
The US-based church, which is best known for picketing the funerals of US soldiers killed in action and its anti-gay stance, is widely described as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center.
Members of Anonymous therefore decided to cover the Facebook page in messages of tolerance toward all, quotes in the same vein from people who the church would stand against and pro-Anonymous articles and videos. A slew of articles then followed, reporting that the page had in fact been hacked.
Perhaps most entertaining was the page description:
THE OFFICIAL WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH FACEBOOK PAGE YA’LL
Church Leaders; Marilyn Manson, Anonymous, and Captain Crunch.
@Wbaptists and @WbcTruth (Twitter) YouTube.com/RealWestboroBaptists
Anyone who manages a Facebook page should have had alarm bells ringing when they saw the extent of the claimed hack. Putting up that much content and backdating it across an extensive timeline would have taken serious time and effort.
As it turned out, Anonymous had created the page some time ago before switching over to the Westboro branding today. While an actual hack might have been more spectacular, chances are Facebook would have shut it down within minutes. You’ve got to admit though, it’s a great piece of trolling on the part of Anonymous.
Anonymous has long opposed the church’s activities. When the church threatened to picket the funeral of online activist Aaron Swartz for instance, members of the collective contacted law officials to ensure that they stayed a prescribed legal distance away and asked people to go to the funeral to form a human shield to protect mourners from WBC’s protest.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings meanwhile, the group sent out a tweet warning the church that it would have to “expect us” if its members picketed the funerals of those killed in the blast.