Crime in Black Mirror: Hated in the Nation

In chapter 7 of the textbook, there is a section on hacking that contains a case study about the Firefox extension, Firesheep. The extension, launched in 2010, makes sidejacking easy, even for people without a technical understanding of what they are actually doing. Sidejacking is the act of hijacking an open web session by capturing the user’s cookie. This allows the sidejacker to perform actions on the website, while acting as the user. For example, there were many cases where sidejackers were able to create posts as someone else on Facebook and Twitter when Firesheep was first released. Similar to the way hacker, Garret Scholes, used the “Game of Consequences” in this Black Mirror episode, Firesheep creator, Eric Butler, used a program to teach the world a lesson. Scholes kept track of everyone who used the “DeathTo” hashtag to teach them a moral lesson about the consequences of their actions. Everyone who used the hashtag (all 387,000 of them) would be killed to show that people should be held responsible for their actions, especially when using social media. On a far less gruesome level, Firesheep was a way of drawing attention to the lack of security on popular websites, and forcing those in charge of web security for such websites to take action and protect their users’ privacy. While there is a huge difference between murdering hundreds of thousands of people and hacking social media accounts, the creators’ intents were similar in that they wanted to prove a point about a problem plaguing society. In both cases, the points they were making were heard loud and clear. In terms of the “Game of Consequences,” killing 387,000 people will obviously turn some heads and get people to listen. On the other hand, we can tell that Firesheep was effective in sending Eric Butler’s message because both Facebook and Twitter would offer the ability to use their services completely over HTTPS within about 5 months of Firesheep’s release.

Written by:Adam