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"See, 'Trust' Is a Word Rarely Used in Here...": Mistrust, Credibility and Collaboration among Anonymous Hacktivists
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. (Cultural Matters)
2019 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

It has been over a decade since the first political manifestations of the digital scene dubbed Anonymous. In that time, the hacktivist arena has seen increased policing, high-profile arrests, and the introduction of state actors posing as hacktivists. Engagement in this arena, where actors are anonymous or pseudonymous, introduces challenges forparticipants because alters may be like-minded participants or something else entirely: federal agents, trolls, or rivals from other networks. Using an analysis of observations in Anonymous chat rooms and interviews with hacktivists, I show that participants respond to these uncertainties by structuring their interactions and organizing public discussions in ways which manage risks from law enforcement, external antagonists and internal rivals. Through codified and openly discussed strategic protection of one’s personally identifying information, as well as subcultural norms of obfuscation through humor, participants signal their assessment of the milieu as risky. However, many participants also rely on circle sof associates and even friends for information, threat assessment, collaborative projects and emotional support. This suggests that while perceptions of risk may increase barriers to cooperation in mediation, it may also lead to individuals developing stronger interpersonal ties with alters. This finding contrasts portrayals of Anonymous as a ‘pure’ example of swarm or crowd behavior online. Rather than finding activists who perform fleeting activism and lack social infrastructure, my analysis suggests that activists have developed strong, persistent, collaborative relationships; asocial sinew at the center of the swarm.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
Keywords [en]
hacktivism, digital activism, trust, risk, social movements, risk management, Anonymous
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-401713OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-401713DiVA, id: diva2:1383764
Conference
14th Conference of the European Sociological Association, Manchester, August 20-23, 2019
Available from: 2020-01-08 Created: 2020-01-08 Last updated: 2020-01-08

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf