Building a taxonomy of digital civil disobedience tactics

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Participants brainstormed different ways to express dissent in the digital space.

The notes produced during the brainstorming phase were then clustered. Then participants labeled the clusters, identifying emerging categories.

The following is a transcription of the notes produced, organized by category.

Please feel welcome to add further examples or recommended resources on this public etherpad. Thank you!

Open Critique of Power

  • Blog posts criticizing government policies and actions as Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept do
  • Public shaming politicians
  • Create and share media/propaganda memes
  • Criticizing Trump on Twitter
  • Social (network) shaming e.g. Cecil The Lion
  • Call your senator with specific message
  • Visualizing formal + informal relationships + networks of power
  • Ignore information in order to hide/ bury it

Boycott and Divest

  • Boycotting sites
  • Unregistering accounts
  • Use purchasing power to withdraw support from complicit companies
  • Divest (401k etc.)

Misinformation or Dis-information

  • Jamming websites (fake news sites) satire
  • Deceptive social network bio info to confuse censors (e.g. Twitter bio's changing to location: Iran)
  • Fake Twitter accounts
  • Fake press release from corporations
  • Registering fake domains with spoof info

Release Not-Public Information to Public

  • Doxxing
  • Leaking Docs. E.g. F.O.P.
  • Whistleblowing by Chelsea Manning of the "collateral murder" video to Wikileaks
  • Leaking evidence of criminal behavior as Snowden leaked to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras
  • Scraping Linkedin for government/military secrets

Noise/ Overwhelm/ Denial of Service

  • Cyber attacks
  • Spamming email
  • Spamming telephones
  • Spamming Faq(?)/ Pranks
  • DDoS
  • DDoS infrastructure. E.g. Imm(?) system


  • Turn off the lights for 1 hour/ 1 min?
  • Monetary donations
  • Organizing in person rallies via Facebook e.g. Occupy, demonstrations in Middle East

Knowledge Sharing

Supporting Circumvention Technology

  • Circumventing personal information capture to access resources e.g. using a fake email to download an activist resource
  • Set up Tor relay
  • Writing encryption software as a sort of protest and direct opposition to the surveillance state (e.g. Signal)

Signal Boost

  • Checking in at Standing Rock
  • Mass check-ins e.g. Standing Rock Facebook check-ins
  • Facebook massive check in to Standing Rock
  • "Signal Boost" for offline actions
  • Petitions
  • Change profile picture
  • Profile picture switches + overlays
  • Facebook profile picture change or additions. i.e. I support trans rights
  • Coopting the opponents signifiers. E.g. Jews + Jewish allies using "((( )))" to co-opt anti-semite use of the sign to ID Jews on Twitter
  • (Digital) Day of Action(s) e.g. #climatechangeisreal on Earth Day 2015

On the session's topic, an overview including an additional list of selected readings: Digital civil disobedience: tactics, tools and future threads (June 2015)