2008 Power List: 26. The Hacktivists

*Moot, Anonymous, Rubico

(Ages: 20, unknown, unknown)*

Five years ago, a 15-year-old computer dork who calls himself Moot borrowed his mom's credit card to set up an online clubhouse where he and his pals could argue the finer points of Japanese animation. The result, 4chan, remains a good spot for doing just that. But it has morphed into something bigger: a culture factory where brainy oddballs post anonymous messages—to date, more than 178 million. Their goal: to come up with infectious ideas, jokes, and sight gags—memes sticky enough to go viral across the Internet. Those brilliantly insipid cat pics that gave birth to the phrase i can has cheezburger? Moot's boys. Rickrolling? The term epic fail? That "Chocolate Rain" song? 4chan popularized them all. But the gang plays hardball, too. In 2007, a network of regulars known as Anonymous declared war on the Church of Scientology, launching a wave of online attacks that led to real-life protests worldwide. And in September, a 4chan visitor named Rubico (allegedly University of Tennessee sophomore David Kernell) bragged of breaking into Sarah Palin's e-mail account and posting the goodies online. When Bill O'Reilly started squawking about the intrusion, the hacktivists took aim at him, too, unmasking a portion of his subscriber list. Pwned.


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