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    Political Expression in Web Defacements

    Kurzmeier, Michael (2021) Political Expression in Web Defacements. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    The idea of influencing public opinion through digital media is ubiquitous, yet little is known about its origins. This thesis investigates the use of political communication through hacked websites. It is at the same time an exploratory description of the research tools and methods needed to find and retrieve such material. The dissertation frames political expression through hacking as interference with the strata of digital communication and positions it within a larger history of on- and offline activist practices. The methodological section describes the difficulties of finding and accessing defaced pages, which are almost exclusively held by community-based archives. Based on already available and added metadata, the dataset of defacements is surveyed and topics, periods of high activity and prominent defacer groups are identified. Modes of expression are tracked to give insight to possible defacer motivation. This survey then serves as the basis for the following analysis of two emblematic clusters of activity: The Kashmir conflict and the 9/11 attacks. In a close reading of selected defacements, communication strategies and general types of defacements are described, thereby showcasing the diversity of defacer standpoints and strategies which runs counter to the common uniform depiction of hackers. The notion of defacements as forced injection of material into a public sphere is discussed throughout these close readings and leads to the final analytical section discussing the relation between defacements and WikiLeaks. After reflecting on the themes that unite this dissertation, the conclusion reflects on the preservation and availability of source material on defaced pages. The author expresses the hope that both the research methodology as well as the applied analyses will promote the understanding of web defacements as a resource for inquests into online political expression.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Political Expression; Web Defacements;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > School of English, Media & Theatre Studies > Media Studies
    Item ID: 15837
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2022 10:59
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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