The human-sized rubber ducks carry AR-15s as they march across the Middle East today, brandishing plungers and black flags. No, this isn't the establishment of a duck caliphate at war with the Western world. It's just Trolling Day, a self-proclaimed holiday by the hacker group Anonymous, which is attempting to counter and subvert jihadist terror in the west by making ISIS simply look absurd.
Members of Anonymous have been creating memes throughout the week in preparation of the flood, and new images are being circulated every minute.
The suggestion to rebrand ISIS — or Daesh, as they hate to be called — as an army of rubber duckies began on the /s4s/ board of 4chan, the dark heart of the internet and the primordial soup from which Anonymous originally emerged.
"How about castrating the image of IS by replacing the faces on ALL their propaganda photos with bath ducks," an anonymous 4channer posted.
But these aren't the only memes making the rounds. Anonymous is flooding Twitter with doctored images of jihadist propaganda meant to infuriate ISIS on hashtags like #TrollISIS, #TrollingDay and #daeshbags. Many of them are sexist, racist and homophobic. Some involve anime, the KKK, internet slang and Pac-Man.
It's good old-fashioned Anonymous fun. If this seems like an immature, ineffective tactic on Anonymous' part, you might not be aware of the group's origins and values as it was founded.
Trolling campaigns, executed for "lulz" using outrageous image manipulation and offensive slurs, were how Anonymous rose to popular consciousness. The earliest Anonymous operations against targets like the Church of Scientology were grounded in mockery and counterpropaganda. Compared to recent, more serious (and often ineffective battles) like #OpISIS and the war against the KKK, #TrollingDay is classic, throwback Anonymous.
There are other hacktivist groups — anonymous affiliated and otherwise — who are waging a fight much more up-close and personal. Groups like GhostSec and CtrlSec spend time rounding up Twitter accounts used by ISIS to spread propaganda and recruit westerners, while hackers working with intelligence officials have been infiltrating Anonymous forums and channels, and feeding information to the federal government to thwart attacks and scrub the internet of Daesh recruiters.
As for those whose skills are more Photoshop-centric: