The Role of the (H)Ac(k)tivist

The Role of the (H)Ac(k)tivist

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2190-7.ch004
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The Making Of Anonymous

Anonymous has been the most visible hacker organization on the scene in the last decade in the West. The group is a digital vigilante collective that are loosely organized around principles of internet freedom, non-censorship, and more recently, sociopolitical and justice issues that have caused a splinter among original members who were just around for the ‘lulz,’ or the laughs. Anonymous is a faceless entity that prides itself on being a single voice on whatever issue they may be tackling at the moment, which makes for an incredibly dangerous force if they are not acting for the common good. Anonymous became a collective through the online bulletin board, 4Chan, which is known for its controversial tactics to embarrass, disrupt, or dismantle an opponent through predominately digital means. The group began as a pseudo-‘Dennis the Menace’ style hackers who were interested in preserving internet freedom and used recreational hacking to disrupt networks or organizations that did not adhere to their standard. But throughout their evolution, the Anon members have developed a penchant for political justice, involving themselves in the global Occupy movements, Arab Spring, various rape cases in the West that did not provide adequate justice for the victims, and most recently, have declared cyber war on the Islamic State. The group uses an anonymous democratic voting system to choose their targets and flood social networks, websites and message boards with their ideology and beliefs, in hopes of furthering a political goal or social justice reform (Coleman, 2011).

Anonymous’ actions are often counterintuitive and involve the varied skill sets of its members. They are often fighting for free speech and non-censorship of online spaces by shutting down websites, or spreading false information in order to ruin a target’s life, business, and/or credibility. The group lives outside of the law in use of hacking techniques and compromising personal information of targets, making Anonymous a formidable foe that PayPal, the Church of Scientology, MasterCard, and many governments worldwide have had the pleasure of being tormented by. Hacking is implicitly political and makes a statement about how we [the consumer] should treat information, and Anonymous values information and knowledge above all.

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