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Media understandings of Cyberactivism

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Lee Salter (University of Sussex):Media understandings of cyberactivism: Ethics and power in public discourse

Cyberactivism has evolved massively since the EDTs, Zapatistas and the emergence of Indymedia. As Western news media has celebrated its use against various authoritarian states. Indeed in the case of Wikileaks, when it was thought to have been set up to attack the secrecy of authoritarian states it was celebrated in the West. However, when its attention turned to liberal states much of the public discourse changed from Wikileaks as a source of freedom and transparency to Wikileaks as a security threats to the publics of Western liberal states. All through, the public media discourse on Wikileaks, and most recently the surveillance scandal, has focused on the ethics of the hackers. This paper will consider the ways in which public understanding of such hackers are framed in loaded ethical terms.


Lee Salter is a lecturer in media and communication at the University of Sussex. A researcher and film-maker, Lee has been engaged in and researching on a range of activism for 15 years, largely focusing on the online environment. His research has been published as Digital Journalism (Sage 2011), the film Secret City (UK, 2012), and has been published in a range of journals and books from Information, Communication and Society to Cyberactivism. His latest work is "Media Understandings of Cyberactivism: Ethics and power in public discourse"