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13/06/2013 00:00:00
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ANONYMOUS Africa, a so-called hacktivist group, briefly shut down about 50 websites on Wednesday, including the Independent Newspapers’ Independent Online (IOL).

The group claimed they did it because of the media group’s support of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

The IOL website was "ignoring the genocide against the Ndebele people" and "supporting a dictator". The group pointed to an opinion piece on the Sunday Independent website claiming that Mugabe was a heroic African leader.

The hack led to the company's internet and e-mail systems going down at 11AM. According to IOL editor Alastair Otter, the system crashed because of a denial of server (DOS) attack, where the servers were flooded by a huge volume of requests.

Just before the attack, a group calling themselves Anonymous Africa, with the Twitter handle @Zim4thewin, sent out this tweet: “Please note everyone. Today #IOL will be attacked for ignoring the genocide against the Ndebele people and for supporting a dictator.”

Minutes later, they wrote: “@IOL Tick tock 3 minutes left until the African spring tidal wave hits your corrupt mouthpiece.”
The tweets then counted down to 11AM, when they wrote: “@iol You are now tango down! for crimes against humanity!”

Then came the taunt: “IOL bad boys bad boys what you ganna do, what you ganna do when they come for you,” quoting the Inner Circle song.

Anton Harber, Caxton professor of journalism at Wits University, said this was "an attack on the rights to free expression" of those who support Mugabe.

"Freedom of speech means tolerating even — or especially — opinions one dislikes. They can disagree, even protest, but vandalising a newspaper site and preventing the expression of different opinions is a thuggish attack on freedom of expression."


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