A Media Comparison: Hactivism Then & Now

In 2012 I saw We Are Legion – The Story of the Hactivists at the Toronto Hot Docs film festival.  It’s a full length film so it’ll take a while to get through, but it’s worth it.  It’s an inside look at the birth of hactivism from its early roots in 4Chan to the birth of Anonymous.  It’s edgy, funny and surprisingly gripping…

There is a kind of poetry in the chaos of those early moments of online activism, it makes me hopeful.  Technology used to overcome tyrannous governments, churches and corporations?  Technology used to bypass media control and free information?  I’m a fan.

Fast forward six years and we seem to be on the other side of this revolution.  Instead of technically skilled mischief makers fighting against systemic inequality, we have Nazis using that same technology to self-organize, tech-corporations removing net-neutrality and making advertising revenue from fake news and foreign governments disrupting elections.  The technology that once promised to set us free is being used to craft even thicker chains.


You can always count on WIRED
graphics to back up a powerful story

WIRED has hit this from a lot of different angles, all of which prompt some hard questions about how the technology we thought would free us has turned into a means of disenfranchisement and control.  Here are a couple of articles that highlight this change:

It’s a difficult thing to see such a promising revolution end up serving the moneyed interests it claimed to stand against.

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