Earlier this week, YouTuber Sam Pepper shocked audiences by uploading a video in which he carried out a "murder prank" involving Viners Sam Golbach and Colby Brock. The backlash was instantaneous and many took to social media to express their disgust.
I was literally in angry tears watching Sam Pepper's video. I cant believe he's still allowed to roam freely with such a sick, twisted mind.— Gabriella (@ggabimariee) December 1, 2015
I feel like Sam Pepper is just an evil twin, and somewhere right now, his good twin, Sam Salt, is doing charity work and helping people.— Destery âš“ (@CapnDesDes) December 1, 2015
Sam is yet to respond directly to the controversy but a new threat far worse than public opinion is looming over the horizon for the 26 year old prankster. Hacking group, Anonymous have officially joined the war against Sam Pepper and they mean business. @TheAnonMessage, the group going after Pepper, claim they are "a voice of Anonymous not THE voice" which could mean that they are simply a rogue faction of the larger group.
BULLETIN: Sam Pepper has exactly 24 hours to take down the video titled "KILLING BEST FRIEND PRANK" or he will incur the wrath of Anonymous.— TheAnonMessage (@TheAnonMessages) December 1, 2015
Time is running out @sampepper.— TheAnonMessage (@TheAnonMessages) December 1, 2015
The group claim to have Sam's UK and US addresses and have published a phone number they allege to belong to Pepper. They have also published images of the homes they say belong to Sam. While some are clearly delighting in the group's actions, others have raised ethical concerns over the group's attempts at vigilante justice.
@TheAnonMessages Anyone else find it weird a group centered around freedom and anti censorship is trying to use terrorism 2 impose its will?— Ryan Costanza (@Flexasaurusss) December 1, 2015
While publicly publishing someone's home address doesn't exactly constitute a crime, the action does have certain implications. The group are also making public jabs on their Twitter timeline concerning an alleged sexual assault of one of Pepper's relatives. This in itself poses a slew of ethical concerns when it comes to protecting victims of sexual assault against public scrutiny.
While most people would agree that Sam's video crossed a line of decency, @TheAnonMessages' idea of justice is also wrong. They are carrying out their own threats all in the name of a warped, borderline obsessive, brand of vigilante justice.
Anonymous are known for their contempt for big business and corruption. Turning their focus on a young adult with a tenuous grasp on the definition of "prank" seems a bit like low hanging fruit. If Anonymous or any other organisation want to change the behaviour of people like Sam Pepper, they're going to have to engage them in some serious conversations concerning consent and human decency. Empty threats and breeches of privacy won't accomplish anything.