Online cultivators of political movements and social awareness. View as a gallery.


Julian Assange

Founder, Wikileaks

  • The Australian programmer turned international activist for freedom of information is best known as the founder of Wikileaks. The site and Assange rose to prominence following the release of classified documents starting in 2006, revealing government corruption, civilian casualties in the Iraq and Afghan wars, and the full text of Sarah Palin’s emails. The organization’s most recent coup: internal emails from intelligence firm Stratfor. For his part, Assange remains holed up in England to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he’s accused of sexual misconduct. He launched a talk show in April.

    Combined score: 55.6


Wael Ghonim

Egyptian Internet activist

  • Ghonim’s story has become legend. He was head of Marketing at Google in the Middle East in 2010, when the rising frustrations in Egypt caused him to leave his post and focus on the Revolution. Ghonim launched the Facebook page that initiated the Tahrir Square demonstrations last year. As a result of his subsequent arrest and release, as well as the successful overthrow of Mubarak, he is one of the most prominent examples of the power of internet activism and a symbol of the Egyptian Revolution.

    Combined score: 54.6


Jake Davis (a.k.a. Topiary)


  • Linked to Anonymous, and an alleged founding member of the hacker group LulzSec, Jake Davis is a Scottish teen hacker. Best known for planting a story on that reported Tupac Shakur had been found alive in New Zealand, LulzSec also contributed to hacks with a political bent, including a collaboration with Anonymous to reveal racism and corruption among Arizona cops. Davis was arrested last year by British police and charged with five crimes—including criminal conspiracy and assisting criminal activity—for accessing computers belonging to News Corp., Sony, the U.S. National Health Service, and the Arizona state police. He was released on bail and is scheduled to enter his plea on June 25 and faces possible extradition to the United States.

    Combined score: 54.4


Alaa Abdel Fattah

Egyptian Revolutionary Activist

  • The Egyptian blogger is considered a pioneer in the region for voicing his political discontent and aggregating other voices of dissent on the blog he runs with his wife. He was vocal in the 2011 Tahrir Square revolution, traveling to Egypt from South Africa and eventually becoming a face of the movement. Last October, he was arrested and charged with inciting violence in connection with the Oct. 9 Maspero demonstrations in Egypt, in which 28 died and 212 were injured. He was released in late December.

    Combined score: 52.8


Chaos Computer Club

Hacker Collective

  • By its own definition, Chaos is a "galactic community...which strives across borders for freedom of information." Started in the early '80s in Germany, the group has dedicated more than three decades to promoting net neutrality, digital privacy, and free speech on the Web. Late last year Chaos published the source code for a virus used by the German government to spy on citizens. The group holds an annual conference, Chaos Communication Congress, which is attended by thousands and features talks and workshops over the course of four days in December on "technology, society and utopia."

    Combined score: 52.6



Tunisian Blog Collective

  • The only publication nominated as a digital influencer, Nawaat is a blog started by Sami Ben Gharbia, Sufian Guerfali, and Riadh Guerfali in 2004. It began as a platform for Tunisians disenchanted with government censorship and fraud. The site was integral to the coverage of the Tunisian Revolution, which began in December 2010, despite overwhelming efforts by Tunisian authorities to make the site inaccessible. After Tunisian President Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, the site's administrators turned some of their attention to training Internet activists and building the Arab activist community.

    Combined score: 52.2


Manal al-Sharif

Saudi Women's Rights Activist

  • Following the release of a YouTube video that showed Manal al-Sharif driving through the streets of the Saudi Arabian city Khobar, she was imprisoned for nine days last year and exposed to public condemnation. The move incited a larger campaign to give women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, which has been unsuccessful so far. In May, she was awarded the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum, where she explained that she'd been marginalized from her job as an Internet security consultant because of her activism.

    Combined score: 51.2



Hactivist Collective

  • This group of hackers and Internet activists operates without a centralized structure or leadership and is open to anyone who pledges allegiance to it. The cyberactivists cum cyber-terrorists have declared war on pedophilia, Scientology, the FBI, San Francisco's public transit system, Sony, and the Vatican. With the growing discontent surrounding Internet censorship as well as social and economic inequality around the world, Anonymous became a central player in some of the biggest movements of the past two years, from Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street.

    Combined score: 50.2


Bradley Manning

U.S. Army Whistleblower

  • The Army intelligence analyst is accused of 22 counts of U.S. Military code violations, including aiding the enemy, for allegedly providing WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified documents regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The leaks were the largest breach of American military security to date, and have been called a catalyst for Arab Spring. Derided as a traitor and hailed as a hero, Bradley Manning remains in prison awaiting trial, which is scheduled for September. The latest motion from his civilian attorney asks for the government to release 250,000 pages of documents it allegedly has regarding Manning's transmission of state secrets.

    Combined score: 47.6


Ramy Raoof

Egyptian Activist/Blogger

  • One of our panelists describes Ramy Raoof as a "one-man broadcast channel" for his prolific posting of videos and images throughout the Egyptian Revolution demonstrations, during which he was acting as the online media officer for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and an independent activist. Unlike some revolutionaries who pulled back after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Raoof continues to cover human rights in Egypt through his Egyptian Blog for Human Rights. He's also at work offering digital security training across Egypt and working on building a mobile network that would support detained demonstrators.

    Combined score: 44.6

Lifetime Achievement:

Joan Blades and Wes Boyd


  • Who ever thought it would take a husband-and-wife team of software developers to reinvigorate the American left? Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, the cofounders of Berkeley Systems, started their rollicking liberal political action group in 1998. Their first mission: get Congress to censure President Clinton for his shenanigans and then move on. In the years since, has become a rallying cry for Democrats and a major political player, raising millions of dollars for liberal candidates.

    Combined score: 44.6

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