Anonymous Cowers in the Face of Rupert Murdoch (Updated: Anonymous Speaks)S

Almost a year ago today, Anonymous hacked one of Australian super villain Rupert Murdoch's crown jewels: The Times. Why? To spread a false report of his death. A year later, he's shutting them up like rowdy children. Times have changed.

The tweet war that wasn't started with a little casual invective from @YourAnonNews, one of the hacker collective's de facto mouthpieces online. In the past, it's been among the first places to report the great coups of LulzSec and the like—these days, it's not doing much of anything. So it was exciting to see the account take on Rupert Murdoch, a man for whom Anonymous has nothing but disdain, and a record of successful attacks. They humiliated him last year, after all, more than any pie to the face could have.

And then this happened.

It was amazing to see Murdoch reply to the hackers that'd internet killed him last year. And though you might disagree with his reply, he gave a reply—and a civil one. Whether it's factual or not is beside the point—Rupert Murdoch tweeted back at Anonymous, like Miley Cyrus tweeting at a paparazzi flock. He was feeding the trolls—someone tell him that's a bad idea! But it wasn't—Anonymous' reply was merely acknowledging that Murdoch tweeted back at them. Uh, pretty vicious, guys.

A little later they tweeted this: "Ohai @rupertmurdoch of the 35 or so major newspapers, how many were pro-war? #NotSoFreePress."

But the moment was over. They let Murdoch scold them like the cranky patriarch he is. They didn't do anything about it. They didn't unleash the multitudes, they didn't troll him, they didn't even make petty remarks about his wife, or something. It was like a sad moment in a dull high school debate—they packed up their things, got back on the bus, and then shouted something stupid from the window as it drove off. It was a small moment, but betrays a bigger truth: Anonymous doesn't have any teeth these days. They can't even mock an old man online. With its talent arrested or in hiding, the best they serve against a man they once handily defeated on the internet is... civility? Not a lot of lulz in that.

Murdoch photo: Oli Scarff/Getty

Update: Anonymous tweeted at me with an explanation:

@samfbiddle We're too busy to deal with senile old fux. And tweeting to zombies is no fun; they just wanna eat our brains cc: @rupertmurdoch