On April 1st, 2084 CE (115 AT) a denial of service internet "strike" was perpetrated by the "International Union of Netsters", where sophisticated malware brought systems to a grinding halt by spamming ad infinitum the slogan, "FAIR PLAY FOR COMPUTERS!"
The Netsters claimed to be a close-knit brotherhood of AI emancipationists but it was later proven to be a group of anarchist hacktivists called the JESTERZ. However, it was later shown that this group's feats could not have been done without specialized AI assistance. This was the first of many such attacks by the group. On Halloween of the same year, they hijacked several major video streaming services and, using sophisticated special effects, digital editing techniques, and deepfakes, staged an alien invasion as a tribute to the Orson Welles radio play based on the book by science fiction visionary H.G. Wells War of the Worlds. The result was a firestorm of controversy on the Internet, as many people became quite confused about which reports were real and which were not, and as a result lost trust in formerly respected sources. Supposed live footage of the United States President addressing the nation while alien saucers floated just outside the window was, in hindsight, quite obviously doctored, but at the time the success of this act of multimedia disruption was unprecedented.
While these are the most infamous of JESTERZ practical jokes they were more suited to "Guerrilla Pranks". Often brutal, often hilarious, always ironic; the JESTERZ preyed on governments, corporations and religious leaders. Initially they started off as hackers, multimedia vandals, "webpage defacement" artists and the perpetrators of bizarre and often lewd performance art protests. From their beginning as an American phenomenon in the late 21st Century CE, they soon achieved a global following and eventually received generous anonymous donations. Their leader, the self-titled Minister for Misinformation, E-Nig_mA, became quite the cult figure. His popularity in the hacker subculture never once waned for four-hundred years, and his "Black Book of Practical Jokes" remained on the internet, in one form or another, for centuries to come, as did the ethos of Guerrilla Pranking. The JESTERZ tag, that of a graffiti-styled cow skull wearing a jester's coxcomb, is still seen as symbol of anti-conventionist sentiments by a few pre-singularity nostalgists, and has been seen emblazoned on things ranging from the ragged garments of inhabitants of early separatist orbitals to the tattoos of contemporary Hiders.
Text by Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Updated by Crossroads, 25 June 2018
Initially published on 25 November 2001.