The Cat Bin Lady ordeal proves how fickle hacktivists can be. (This is not the first time 4chan has da/b/bled in feline justice.)
They seem to choose something arbitrarily and spin it on a whim. A woman throwing a cat into a garbage can is a heinous act, no doubt, and the netizens chose to treat it as one. But what about shooting policemen? Is that not a heinous act? Netizens think not.
Raoul Moat, who died in a shoot-out with police offers, was paraded as a hero on Facebook. Now if these groups operated on any consistent moral standard, how could they vilify the Cat Bin Lady while also putting a murderer on a pedestal? Maybe it’s our propensity to admire outlaws, as one article suggests. In any case, it is still a clear example of the inconsistency in the net's brand of "justice." These scattered initiatives are partly due to the disjointed nature of these "groups." Many are considered "groups," but in the loosest of ways. In truth, they are often just people who happen to be walking in the same direction.
Perhaps this inconsistency in moral code hints at the amorality within these groups. Could it be these groups are more interested in the availability and spread of information, without regard to its actual content? This certainly pertains to WikiLeaks and the groups supporting it.
Either way, there is certainly a power to hacktivism, and seemingly not much being done to thwart it. While 4chan's efforts are misguided, they still prove how powerful a more specific, goal-oriented group could be.
The smaller, but still leaderless, group Anonymous is certainly an example of that. Their actions have had more measurable and distinct effects. Not just on specific individuals, but on large organizations like HBGary Federal.
This symbol probably won't mean much to most people, but here's my random reference of the day: The thinking behind Anonymous reminds me of a fictional group called Individual 11 from the anime Ghost in the Shell (SAC: 2nd Gig, to be more specific.) Wikipedia's description of the Individual 11 is a perfectly fitting one for groups like Anonymous: "an organization constructed by a Stand Alone Complex - a group of self-interested individuals with no connection or ties to each other but unconsciously and collectively act towards the common purpose of revolution."