Civil Disobedience Through Social Media

Civil disobedience has been a significant part of our famous world history, but with all the advances in technology and social media, it has taken a whole new direction.  Since society’s transition into social media, all forms of political activism and protest are able to be formed through use of the Internet by means of petitions, fundraisers, mass letter-writing and call-in campaigns to street marches, picket lines, sit-ins, and occupations, plus many newly developed techniques.


The term “civil disobedience” generally makes people think of Rosa Parks or Mohandas Gandhi protesting for civil rights and peace.  They also associate it with being dangerously public and they remember how often it puts people at risk of arrest.  The awesome way civil disobedience, or cyber civil disobedience, methods have been transforming is that people can come together to plan and protest behind closed doors in the privacy of their own homes and without having to put their bodies on the line.

Rosa Parks

The ways people can now take action online are separated into three categories of “disruption,” “information distribution” and “infrastructure.”

Disruption tactics, as you can imagine, aim to interrupt peoples’ flow of information and usually feed them alternative information, such as “Website defacements.” This is when a group or individual takes over a Website and replaces much of its content with their own propaganda to convince the user of their opinions.

Information distribution focuses on releasing secret information about a person or organization in protest to their actions or beliefs.  The most famous case of information distribution in recent history is Wikileaks.  The main goal is to put injustices out for public view, and cause more people to go against whatever is being protested.

The idea behind infrastructure in terms of online civil disobedience is replacing systems that have been compromised in order to get people off of them.  An example would be if the government began spying on the activities of a Website.  Users of the site who were not okay with this would create ways to make it harder for them to spy, or they would create a different site and stop using the compromised one.

These new approaches have been very prominent in all cultures and wouldn’t be possible without the many skills of hackers.  The idea behind it all is to spread important information to people who need to know.  When used for good, it aims to stop negative forces from having too much control.  When used for bad, it may prevent people from getting information they need, or feed them untrue information.

Cyber attack

What do you think this means for politics and for global issues? Is this movement into technology and social media good or bad?


Sauter, Molly. “The Future of Civil Disobedience Online.” Io9 – We Come from the Future. N.p., 17 June 2013. Web.

27 Oct. 2013. <;.


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6 responses to “Civil Disobedience Through Social Media”

  1. velazsu says :

    I believe the new technology brought new way if crime, and civil disobedience, these because we all know that information is more vulnerable every day, and there is no possible way to be completely safe in a social media environment. Also that the current politics have a lots of issues related to this hot topic.

  2. sewright511 says :

    I think your topic is really cool. What hackers can do is incredible with just one click of a button. The hacker/activist group Anonymous is a really interesting group of people. It is crazy that they can easily take down firewalls of huge corporations. The problem with hackers is only going to get worse as technology progresses.

  3. mightculturenation says :

    Civil disobedience is somewhat at odds with democratic government, but it can be argued that it is not fully incompatible with it. The tension with democracy is fairly obvious: democracy only works when a community is able to pass laws with the understanding that all will abide by what the majority desires

  4. mightculturenation says :

    The problem with civil disobedience online is that it’s even more easily infiltrated by instigators hired by opposing parties such as corporations, political groups, and government. We know activists in the 1960s were infiltrated by the FBI and other groups; why would we assume the present U.S. administration does anything differently?

    Just look at how many people want to believe in Edward Snowden’s hard-to-believe backstory. If you follow mainstream or alternative media, you’d think the only question is whether “Snowden” is a whistleblower or a traitor. A very possible third option is that he’s still CIA or NSA and working as part of a “limited hangout” operation.

  5. alliemarie1881 says :

    This post was very informative and specific; I feel it helped touch on something that people don’t necessarily know is happening. I think that the use of technology in these ways is clever but as you said, in the wrong hands it could seriously influence the way people perceive certain topics and potentially cause extreme issues. Im curious to see how far this is taken in the future and if it is possible to use these methods for more than just civil disobedience. If the right person puts in enough time, do you think that they could abuse these skills and impact the world so greatly that it makes history?

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