Wednesday, March 9, 2011

H.C.U.R. (Hactivists Creating Ugly Results)

Hactivism, an idea of activism on the web that seeks to advance a cause or stage a protest is, in my opinion, SHAMEFUL.

Not only is it shameful when people feel obligated and/or entitled into hacking into the opponents' computer systems or websites to promote and/or change ideals, but because people tend to get very malicious about it which can lead to individuals (like Mary Beal, the cat-bin lady) getting injured or even killed over incidents that shouldn't get blown out of proportion.

When it comes to more traditional forms of activism like demonstrations, letter-writing, or even coups, people seem favor the web over these tactics since it is more readily available, can reach enormous amounts of people in short time, and because people can remain anonymous.

Going further, when examining the nature of ethics as it relates to hacktivism, I believe that the issue isn't a matter of the 'hacker' being right or wrong, but merely, is this type of hactivism truly being warranted -OR- does this individual truly deserve this.

Consider Mary Beal, the 45-year-old woman who thought it was funny to put someone else's cat in a trash bin. Did Beal strike the cat? No. Did Beal throw the cat around? No. For the sake of the cat, Beal did threaten its livelihood by putting it in the trash bin, but my point is that she did not maliciously harm the cat in any way. Yet, hacktivists went online and created a Facebook group called, "Cat Lady should to time in a bin," which was liked by almost 998 people -at the time- and resulted in her address and boss' number being posted in different forums thoughout the web.

This is totally unethical, especially since all the backlash ended up in Beal receiving death threats and police protection.

What makes the matter even more controversial is that she recognized that she committed a silly act of animal cruelty and apologized for her actions. My perspective is that Beal could have been murdered because of all the backlash and hate she received before even admitting fault and recognizing that she truly committed a mistake.

Everyone's not perfect and as humans, we all have been a part of an act of sillyness during our lives, but when it gets to the point where lives are being threatened due to our sillyness, the issue becomes a matter of seriousness and life and death.

The only time I see hactivism as being positive is when a cause or issue is being promoted for the betterment of the people, like for uncovering dishonest political affiliates or even companies who have scammed a large amount of people. Still, even supporting those types of hactivism are tricky issues to deal with at surface level.

All in all, hacktivism is better left untouched. There will always be someone upset at someone else for any particular reason (boyfriend hitting a girlfriend, people engaged in dogfighting, individuals who have spreaded STDs, etc) but that doesn't mean to expose them so badly that their lives could be put at risk for their actions. It is the police's job to handle and jail individuals for their wrongful, unjustly, and criminal behaviors.

So, let them (police) do their job.

The world is already crazy enough.


  1. Thanks for the view on Humans. I know I forget that we are all 'human' all the time, and need to remember what you called 'silliness' happens all the time.

  2. You bring up an interesting point that the response to the cat bin lady seems disproportionately violent and angry, as it often is with internet witch hunt-type cases. Throughout the history of justice we've had an idea that "the punishment should fit the crime." I think one of the most useful aspects of our justice system is that it attempts to reason out a fitting punishment, whereas hacktivism tends to build up so much momentum, and there is ultimately no control applied to the "punishment."

  3. Great points!
    I thought it was interesting where you said hacktivism can be a good thing. It can really expose all the scams from big coporations and such that can be dangerous. Hacktivism is a touchy topic and somewhat difficult to understand. I think that people should just mind thier business, because hacktivism can cause many problems that can be taken out of porportion.