Anonymous Makes The TIME 100
The loose-knit hacker group ended up in the number 36 spot on TIME'S 100 Most Influential People list, released on April 18, even though the group had been voted to first place on TIME's online reader poll.
As of 5 p.m. ET on Friday, April 6, the hacker-activist collective beat out all other nominees with 395,793 votes in favor of its inclusion on the TIME 100 list. Jeremy Lin, who came in ninth on the poll, snagged TIME's top honor on the official list.
So why did the TIME editors chose to place the hacker group at such a low spot on the list considering how high Anonymous placed in public polling and its widely publicized cyberattacks (to name just a few: striking government websites around the world in Tunisia, Algeria Zimbabwe, China, the United States and elsewhere; crashing the CIA's public site; and, more recently, intercepting an FBI conference call and posting it online).
To be fair, Anonymous wasn't the only TIME 100 contender whose place on the final list didn't reflect people's votes. For example, general manager of Reddit Erik Martin, came in second on the public poll with 26,4193 votes but then dropped drastically to number 83 on the final list. And Indian politician Narendra Modi, who came in third in the web poll with 25,6792 votes, didn't even make the final list at all.
It may well be that Anonymous' low ranking on the final list is due to the fact that TIME editors suspect the group of rigging the voting. If that's the case, it wouldn't be the first time someone gamed TIME's poll. As ZDNet pointed out in 2009, 4chan users "took advantage of the lack of authentication or validation of the online process" using "autovoters" to reorder the names that appeared on the poll.
Writing the official intro for Anonymous on the TIME 100 list, Barton Gellman asked bluntly, "Did Anonymous fix the TIME 100 poll?" He went on to include an unnamed person's response to his query, an unnamed person said, "Depends on who you think is smarter, a global collective of highly skilled hackers or the TIME IT department."