Phreaking, Hacking, and Trolling

So this week we are reading Gabriella Coleman’s article “Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls: The Politics of Transgression and Spectacle.”

Most of us have never heard of phreaks before (I had no clue what it was when I began reading the article). They’re basically the early versions of hackers. Wayyy back in the 1960s (I know that’s a long time) they modified phone frequencies to do not only make phone calls free, but to also gain information (they pretended to be scary information collecting companies and tricked people into giving out their social security numbers, credit card numbers, you know, the good stuff.)

I know what you’re thinking, those kind of phones actually existed before? Yes, they did.


More computer enthusiasts joined the phreaking movement, which later lead to hacking. Hackers are people who manipulate and modify computer networks to gain unauthorized access to data. In current news we see hacker groups take on governments and corporations. Sometimes they do this to highlight the security holes in a software, other times they do it to prove a point. Hacking can include a variety of things, such as simply stealing a password, or something as complex as taking control over a computer network.

This picture makes it seem as if hackers are criminals, but are they really? Well, it all depends on the context I think. If a hackers is able to get take control of a terrorist group’s social media accounts I think it’s a good thing. However, if a hacker decides to release nude pictures (like what happened recently with many celebrities, such as Jennifer Lawrence) then I think it is an invasion of privacy, and is totally wrong.

Here is a totally stereotypical idea of an Internet troll

Next, the article goes on about trolling. I believe that griefing is related to trolling (we’ve already covered this before, hopefully you still remember it). It is the intentional disturbance caused to get a reaction/response. You see this everywhere on the Internet, online games, Youtube, Twitter, etc. Most of the time I it doesn’t bothers me, however, others can take it more personally than I do. So do they really cause harm, or are they mere tricksters? Coleman ends the article by asking a similar question. Again, I  believe that it depends on the context.

So what do you think? Are trollers just tricksters? What are your thoughts on hackers, and phreakers (although there might not be anymore phreakers today)?

Let me know in your comments, and I’ll see you in my next post!

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