SAN FRANCISCO — The Anonymous hacker collective has launched a campaign to add rainbow flags and gay pride slogans to Islamic State Twitter accounts in response to the Orlando gay dance club attack that left 49 dead.
The hackers take over Twitter accounts of those espousing support for the Islamic State, then add rainbow flags, signs proclaiming “I’m Gay and I’m Proud” and other gay-positive imagery.
One of the hackers behind the effort says he’s been getting both death threats and kudos since the campaign began on Sunday.
“They send me beheading pictures all the time and tell me I’m next,” said the man who says he owns the WauchulaGhost Twitter account that’s been posting some of the hacked Twitter accounts.
The group has been running a campaign against the Islamic State for a little over a year. Normally they take over Twitter accounts and fill them with Anonymous imagery and the phrase “Islamic State, we own you.”
But after Orlando they wanted to pay tribute to those who died, he said.
“The morning of the attack I woke up and saw the news and I was just furious. All I could see was people mourning and crying. And I thought maybe I could do one thing that would lift some spirits,” he said.
Reached by phone, the man behind the WauchulaGhost account declined to give his name or any information about himself beyond that he’s American and not gay, but was appalled by the attack.
“This has to do with the lives that were lost. They didn’t deserve to die. Everyone has the right to live,” he told USA TODAY.
Twitter has suspended many of the ISIS-linked accounts that have been hijacked by WauchulaGhost and others but they continue to find more.
Originally he’d added pornography to some of the Twitter accounts, as an affront to the Islamic State’s rigid orthodoxy. However some women contacted him and explained why they found that less than helpful to the cause and he took it down.
He said he hopes the exuberant gay images were able to “brighten peoples’ day on a sad day.”