Gagged and Doxed: Hacktivism’s Self-Incrimination Complex
The investigation, arrest, and conviction of a number of high-profile hacker-activists, or hacktivists, reveal the ways subjectivity is mobilized through processes of revelation and evasion. We use the term subjectivation to describe the performative practices engaged in by hacktivists and contrast them with governmental and disciplinary practices of subjection. We elaborate upon two categories of subjectivation (coming out and versioning) and two categories of subjection (doxing and gagging). These categories form the vectors of hacktivist and state coproduction that emerge in selfie-incrimination. We use the term selfie to describe both intentional and inadvertent practices of online self-disclosure. Selfie-incrimination that is public and voluntary we discuss in terms of coming out. Versioning describes the public voluntary manipulation of personal identity. Being doxed entails the online disclosure of a hacktivist’s identity. Gagging refers to this ultimate silencing of illicit political digital activity, wherein the state designates the parameters of speech as well as physical movement. We conclude by examining the entangled and asymmetrical relationship between hacktivist subjectivity and the cybersecurity of the state.