What Does Hacktivism Mean?

Hacktivism is the act of hacking a website or computer network in an effort to convey a social or political message. The person who carries out the act of hacktivism is known as a hacktivist.


In contrast to a malicious hacker who hacks a computer with the intent to steal private information or cause other harm, hacktivists engage in similar forms of disruptive activities to highlight political or social causes. For the hacktivist, hacktivism is an Internet-enabled strategy to exercise civil disobedience. Acts of hacktivism may include website defacement, denial-of-service attacks (DoS), redirects, website parodies, information theft, virtual sabotage and virtual sit-ins.

Techopedia Explains Hacktivism

Hacktivism and hacktivists are motivated by an active desire to cripple government control and censorship of electronic and Web technologies and content. As such, hacktivism may be employed by those opposing rigorous copyright regulations or fervently interested in circumventing restricted electronic data.

A key hacktivism tool fueled by the Internet is techno-politics, where hacktivists voice public opinions and stances regarding repressive legislation hindering open access to computer software and websites. Hacktivists educate the public on perceived regulatory injustices and encourage response. Hacktivists continuously initiate and engage in court battles challenging freedom of Internet speech and other digital media restrictions.

Hacktivism addresses a variety of acts that are active and passive – as well as violent and non-violent – and may be falsely interpreted as cyberterrorism. Hacktivism was originally coined to explain how electronic direct action elicits social change through blended programming expertise and critical thinking. Despite this, many perceive hacktivism as an attempt to fulfill undesirable political motives.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.