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updated 6/5/2012 11:25:57 AM ET 2012-06-05T15:25:57

Anonymous hacktivists are in the midst of a campaign to name and shame suspected pedophiles who allegedly use Twitter to prey on and harass underage children.

Named #TwitterPedoRing, the operation began yesterday (June 4), and has already seen data dumps of hundreds of Twitter accounts that Anonymous followers believe belong to pedophiles.

In an unsigned Pastebin post, someone claiming to speak for Anonymous wrote, "This is a list of pedophiles that Twitter hasn't deemed important to remove despite their affiliations with each other, their posts of children participating in lewd acts, and their requests for this sort of material."

The posting contined, "We are releasing these names in hopes that Twitter will work together with LEA [law enforcement authorities] in order to catch and stop these scumbags."

Before listing the Twitter handles, the hacktivists issued a stern threat: "You mess with our children, you mess with us."

[Anonymous Hackers Take Down Child Porn Websites, Leak Users' Names]

In an email to SecurityNewsDaily, Twitter spokesman Robert Weeks said, "We do not tolerate child pornography on Twitter. We have investigated all reported accounts in question and taken appropriate action on the offending accounts with suspensions and reports to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children."

Weeks continued, "When we are made aware of accounts uploading links to images of or content promoting child pornography they will be removed from the site without further notice and reported to NCMEC; we permanently suspend accounts containing updates with links to child pornography."

Weeks said if you come across a Twitter account distributing child pornography, email cp@twitter.com with a link to the profile and relevant tweets that lead you to believe the account should be investigated.

The effort to break up the "TwitterPedoRing" is the latest strike in an ongoing Anonymous-based crusade to shame suspected pedophiles. In May, an Anonymous group claimed to have breached the servers of an illegal child porn website, leaking the credentials of 11 registered users.

That phase of the campaign was "Operation Darknet," in which Anonymous members last October claimed to have infiltrated and taken down more than 40 child-pornography websites and leaked the names of more than 1,500 members of one of the sites. The claims could not be independently verified.

In its analysis of this latest development, English-language Russian news site RT.com said, "Given their latest release ... Anonymous might be better at policing the Web than any of the government agencies paid billions to protect children."

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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