4chan: Defenders of the Internet?

4chan is at it again, bless their little trollish hearts. They’ve taken up the role of vigilante force for the media pirates on the Internet. I pointed out at some point in the past that the evolution of the Internet would include a de-facto police force, since meat space jurisprudence can’t work at cyber speed. I think we are starting to see that take place.

The current tactics, however, will probably not make much of an impact. The sites being targeted are of very little economic importance. If you take down the web site for a bunch of lawyers, you are really aren’t affecting their ability to do their job. However, if they start to wise up and focus their efforts on better targets, they could have a significant impact.

For example, if one were to properly approach the problem, then the impact to commerce must be maximized. There are a number of weak spots they could focus on. I wonder the effect of DDOS’ing a major motion picture studio’s web site for a new movie, right before the big release. If it could have an impact on the opening weekend numbers, then you might have something. Particularly, if the studio blamed the failure of their movie on 4chan. Now that would make CNN and the other studios would sit up and take notice. They also might think really hard about their participation in the RIAA campaigns.

Of course it could stir up the Obama justice squad, too.

The Purveyors of Cyberjustice

It’s official. Anonymous has declared war on Australia. Is the outback ready for the Internet’s grand legion of cellar dwellers at 4chan? This isn’t the first time Anonymous has taken up a cause, and probably not the last. What is interesting is that random, interconnected groups of people are pooling resources and causing havoc for a cause. Vigilante justice isn’t unusual and is older than governments themselves. Which leads one to an interesting thought experiment. On the Internet we see virtual versions of the constructs that are part of our corporeal life; Communication, Gaming, Dating, Sex, etc. It’s a wild west with no form of control or authority and it works pretty well. And now we have Anonymous. Could we be seeing a form of organization emerging from the chaos? The beginning of a permanent anarchical justice force, perhaps?

In the case of 4chan, there is an urge to do something bigger than themselves, either due to outrage or just for the lulz. I have no doubt that in the old west some people joined in on posses for the kicks. And we see that here. Like so many things, the beginnings are a little raw. But through this constructive chaos could we see something bigger than the sum of it’s parts? Several years ago a company created a anti-spam concept called “Blue Frog” that used the power of the Internet collective to rain terror on spammers. It worked for a while, until the company came under attack and folded. The weakness with Blue Frog wasn’t the idea. It was the centralized command and control of that managing organization. But Anonymous doesn’t suffer from this limitation. It is a swarm and essentially headless. And capable of instantly responding when attacked. Spammers and malware authors have the edge in lead time compared to our justice system which is used to prosecute them. Anonymous doesn’t suffer this limitation.

There may be a role for Internet justice in the future. Whether it involves Anonymous is an open question.