// Posted by Renee on 02/28/2012 (11:18 PM)
So I just finished reading through Vanessa Grigoriadis article “4chan’s chaos theory. Two things struck me about the article. The first is how applicable Mark Poster‘s term netizen is. Anonymous is the perfect physical example of this theoretical concept. Poster says that a netizen is a person who is has an “allegiance to the net”. I would say that Anonymous definitely does have an allegiance to the net. And they use the internet to fight for transparency in government and free speech. You also have to take the global nature of Anonymous into account. As I was reading the article what kept catching my attention was all of the different countries that were involved. The trolls are citizens of all different countries, and police forces in many of those countries are actively pursing them.
Poster also talks about how the internet is a decentralized web and exchanges cannot be controlled by the nation-state. Not that Christopher Poole is the government, but when he banned Anonymous’ calls to rally on 4chan, they simply moved off the site and had the same communications through other social media.
I think if anyone is worthy of Poster’s term it is the members of Anonymous and the trolls who have created a trans-culture on 4chan. Poster also says that there is the potential for netizens to create a global democracy. Even Grigoriadis admits that with their ability to shut down corporations websites and hack political leaders e-mails, “Anonymous is part of the democratic revolution”. But shes adds the caveat, “just don’t piss them off”. Because along with the ability to protect freedoms of speech and to demand that corporations maintain policies that are fair to their consumes, Anonymous also has the ability to viciously attack its enemies and not be held accountable for it.
There are several examples of the work of Anonymous in the article, but this is just another example of how Anonymous can work to the benefit of society. In this video, news reporters desrcibe how the arrest of pedophile Chris Forcand was made possible through Anonymous’ “internet vigilantism”.
But in other cases, Anonymous has used its power to harass individuals for the “lolz”. For example, Mckay Hatch is a teenage boy from California who runs a website called the No Cussing Club. Anonymous members made all of Mckay Hatch’s private information public so that he and his family could be sent hate mail and bullied. This video from abc talks about the death threats that Hatch received.
So the issue at hand, and I think the issue worth talking about is that, Anonymous is enjoying almost unlimited power. As netizens, there is no “net” law limited them or telling them what they can and cannot do. There is of course the laws of the nations that they live in, but Anonymous members have shown time and time again that they operate above the system and they are smarter than the guys trying to catch them. I think we’re entering into the global community that Poster described and right now is the tricky stage where netizens are actively establishing how that space will be defined. The overall power that Anonymous has is very threatening to me and the fact that they can use it to viciously, and sometimes idiotically, attack whomever they please is scary. But maybe in a way it is like the rights we have defined for us in the constitution. Americans have always had the right to speak out against their government and its leaders if they so choose. Anonymous is simply showing us a way to do that that has a little more weight. Its a whole new way of holding our politicians accountable. We don’t like what you’re doing, fine we’ll hack your e-mail and post it on the web. Maybe they are just shifting the power structure and giving more power to the individual.
Power to the people?