By Jacob Siegel
Live long enough and you may hear future historians recall the war between 4chan and an art collective called LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner.
They’ll tell the story of how anonymous, interconnected imageboard users gathered clues from public video footage, like passing aircraft and the position of stars, to geolocate the roving, anti-Trump art project He Will Not Divide Us, put on by actor Shia LaBeouf and his collaborators. Records will show that the people on the group’s trail—pro-Trump activists, impish saboteurs, and budding neo-Nazis—didn’t need high-end spy gear. Instead, they found their mark by collecting and processing public information through decentralized and supposedly leaderless networks. It might one day look, in retrospect, like a form of social automation: continuously updating intelligence assessments converted into real-world effect by volunteer foot “soldiers” acting without orders.