LulzSec leverages social media, touts self.

LulzSec and other hacker networks are leveraging social media channels to rally support. Should they be shutdown or allowed to continue feeding the frenzy?
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor on

The hacker community has mostly lurked in the shadowy caverns of the IRC where the less techie mainstream is typically absent. It makes sense. I mean, why would a hacker syndicate operate in a forum like social media bragging and explaining all of their covert operations making it more possible to find out who they are, where they are, their behavioral patterns and what they're working on?

The individuals behind LulzSec's Twitter account can't help themselves. LulzSec's activity was getting some more-than-normal airplay as of late in the news which lead to thousands of mentions on Twitter and blogs plus the added bonus of a jump in Twitter followers. Who doesn't like to feel like they're in the running for the ultimate popularity contest, with hopes and dreams of one day showing up on Twitter.com as one of the top trending topics?

Freedom of speech versus safety

LulzSec continues to leverage social media channels to build a foundation for a public rallying cry to help save us all from ourselves and...well...any government. At some point hiding in the IRC chat rooms wasn't satisfying enough so they started tweeting. The problem with social media sometimes is the false sense of validation that one can get just by saying, well, pretty much anything, especially if they are part of a controversial group, effort or movement. This validation eggs on the desire to post more, do more, interact more, track more and so on. You know that one kid in your neighborhood growing up that only got attention when they acted out and rebelled? In this case, Twitter is the perfect platform for those types of individuals.

I've seen some of their data dumps and announcements at pastebin.com and immediately wondered what the value is in showing personal contact information for people in law enforcement and various levels of government. Is the goal just to prove it can be done? Hacking has been going strong for years and we all already know this so what gives?

Is it appropriate for sites like Twitter and Facebook to team up with Federal, State and local governments to shutdown these accounts? The argument between what is censorship versus the importance of protecting public officials from angry misguided citizens misusing their personal information is a tough one apparently.

Can or should anything be done with hacker accounts?

One theory I have is that social media channels run by hacker networks are intentionally untouched in hopes that if we give them enough public conversational rope, they'll hang themselves with it. Law enforcement authorities probably love nothing more than a criminal that can't stop opening his mouth as the detectives sit there and log everything, slowly putting all the puzzle pieces together.

Part of me thinks that Facebook and Twitter are afraid to participate at all, just from a PR/business standpoint, in dealing with hacker accounts, pages and channels. Facebook in particular is trying to take over the world at the moment so why mess with the momentum?

As we've learned in the post 9/11 world, dredging up fear in the heads and hearts of the general population is all you need to make serious waves, drive news interest, and upset a lot of people. All it takes is a 19 year old with superior computer skills, sitting at a Starbucks in Ohio, grepping and catting your personal information to a text file so that it can spread around the Twitterverse for all to see.

How do you think these accounts should be handled? Are social networks themselves doing enough or should they not bother doing anything at all so not to validate the subversive intent of certain hacker communities and networks?

[image source MICHAEL GOTTSCHALK/AFP/Getty Images]

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