Covert hacktivist collective Anonymous has hit out at a Telegraph columnist for her article linking their Million Mask March with sweatshops in Brazil.
Anonymous has been grabbing headlines this week for its Million Mask March which took place in 400 cities around the world, even attracting Russell Brand to take part in the London event.
The march attracted a lot of attention, both positive and negative, but one opinion piece seems to have raised the ire of the group more than any other.
On Wednesday, the day after the march, UK newspaper The Telegraph published an article entitled: "Anonymous have been exposed as hypocrites. Watch them try to wiggle out of it."
The article argued that because the iconic Guy Fawkes masks used by Anonymous to identify themselves were said to have been produced in "sweatshops," the group was being hypocritical when criticising organisations and individuals for not doing the right thing.
The problem is that the "sweatshop" references is in fact a well-respected factory in Brazil which produces masks mainly for the country's famous Carnival.
In an open letter to the media, Anonymous said:
"This factory is actually a 55-year-old family-owned workshop, where artists produced an estimated 200,000 masks yearly. Most of them are designed by Catalan artist Sergi Arbusa y Amoros and are sold for the annual Carnival in Brazil, which is attended by more than 3 million people in Rio de Janeiro every year."
This is backed up by an Associated Press report from February of this year, when a reporter visited the offices of Condal and spoke to Olga Valles, the owner of the factory which is "Brazil's oldest and most productive mask factory." Valles' started the factory in 1958 with her Spanish-born husband.
The problems stems from the assumption that the masks were made in a "sweatshop" based on a photo taken by Getty photographer Buda Mendes of the production line which appeared on the front page of Reddit this week.
You can see the picture here.
The article says: "[The Picture] shows the masks being manufactured in bulk in a factory in Brazil. Maybe it isn't a sweatshop, but that's certainly the word being bandied around at the moment."
Anonymous says many other people on Twitter and in the media made the same assumption. "Frankly, it's sad that a photograph of dark-skinned people at work is immediately associated with forced labour."
Anonymous goes on to suggest Valles files a lawsuit against the Telegraph for defamation, adding about the media in general:
"What is also unfortunate is that members of the press have chosen to attack Anonymous, while ignoring the important issues we've raised about human rights, our environment, and the corrupt acts of our business and political leaders. As it turns out, it's just much easier to take pot shots at average citizens who express logical grievances with the status-quo."
Another fact raised is that Time Warner owns the royalty for the Guy Fawkes mask which was originally seen in Alan Moore's 1982 comic V for Vendetta but more recently in the 2005 film adaptation.
The article says: "It's also been known for a while that Time Warner, one of the world's largest media companies, makes a profit every time a mask is sold. Isn't this all a little... hypocritical?"
Anonymous in its open letter confirms this, saying that prior to the march one of the major Anonymous Twitter-affiliated accounts tweeted that protestors should not buy the iconic masks - a warning most seemed to ignore in London.
"Wear anything you want to #MillionMaskMarch, including Guy Fawkes. We just want people to be conscious about their consumer choices" adding that "there are inherent consequences with any consumer purchase."