„Political warfare in the information age is fought with misinformation.”
– Freedom and Development Foundation
How far is there between the simple and innocent fingerprint we leave on a document as an irreplaceable and permanent mark in the current era of digital hitmen?
It is incredible that victims and criminals live together in social networks: some do their work as digital predators, load disinformation campaigns, destroy the truth, confuse half-lies, create false truths, and some are deceptive and in good faith, the „information age” is a phase of greater transparency and access to the truth. There is still resistance to accepting that false and trending news invade networks, where digital hitmen falsify and obfuscate at the behest of their customers to destroy business deals.
Only yesterday was the value of our thumb (or big toe) able to capture our handwriting on the inked tip. For the uneducated, it was a unique and unrepeatable branding solution and instead of writing the name, „digital or fingerprint” was printed.
These traces are formed in the mother’s womb from the 19th week of pregnancy and remain unchanged throughout life. Other wonders of life and reproduction of children. No two people have identical fingerprints or fingerprints, whether they are mother or child, even in the case of twins born in the same womb and at the same time, their fingerprints are different.
These tracks are described by dactyloscopy as a pattern formed on the fingertips by ridges of sweat glands located in the skin. They are scientifically considered as a unique identifier and are used by biometrics for physical or biological authentication to identify a person. It is very unique to us, unique and different from others, which is why forensics and criminology field use it to confirm the identity of a body. It is a fact that the little finger and the ring finger have the best fingerprints.
A fingerprint can be used to „sign” criminals, whether it’s used for bank registration, time clocks, visa procedures, or as a first sign that mimics five fingers and the sole of the foot. They combine ten finger prints with front and profile photos that reliably identify anyone until their death. At crime scenes, the first thing investigators try to capture and record are fingerprint samples of the crime or the perpetrators of the crime, as it can be an important component of supporting evidence against the perpetrators. For this reason, many criminals make sure to wear gloves so as not to leave any traces of identification.
Maggie Camps, in an article in La Vanguardia[i], writes that the cognate words of digital and digitus are daktylos and digitus, and both refer to the same thing: finger. The first is Greek, which goes into Latin, and the second begins with Latin.
From the Latin numerals we have today the popular finger and liturgical numerals. As the fingers of both hands count the ten digits of the decimal system, gadgets that deal with the combination of numbers are digital. A digit is a number because it is one of the ten fingers. Traditionally we call fingerprint as fingerprint, although it can also be described as digital. Both adjectives are correct.
However, the term fingerprint has become widespread as a fingerprint, because the fingerprint acquires a new meaning, increasingly widespread and necessary: the trace we leave on the Internet through activity on websites and social networks. A lot of people ask big digital managers like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. They erase their traces, the digital trace, for sure. But those two adjectives, which once functioned as synonyms when referring to fingerprints, are now starting down the road to divorce. Systems that connect all kinds of images to (digital) signs, Magí Camps notes.
So, a digital footprint is like the trail we leave behind when we surf the Internet. Every time a like is clicked on social networks or an application is used on the phone, personal information is left behind. The new digital footprint is embodied in our use of digital devices.
The difference is that we carry our fingerprint or digital print on our fingers. We can protect them with our hands, in our bags or gloves and show them only when we feel the need. On the other hand, the digital traces we leave behind on computers and mobile phones are exposed to everyone, leading to so-called cybercrimes that falsify identities and extort our data.
Another difference is that fingerprints can be modified or replaced, while fingerprints are not expendable. For this reason there are many false profiles in the network and they can be adapted according to the use they want to give it and of course, real or imaginary can be extracted.
We identify this activity as mobs or digital predators that have taken over social networks, from which nefarious campaigns or black campaigns arise. Digital technology now allows for the simulation of large „crowds” of followers of a candidate, ruler or commercial object.
The word hitman is very popular and has been incorporated into our language by organized crime, the word is very old and corresponds to characters who get paid for murdering someone. Well, there are digital hit men who earn money by doing dirty work on the internet to their designated victims to tarnish people’s reputation or fame, create false news, cause moral damage or social murder.
The Libertad y Desarrollo Foundation creates alerts about digital hitmen, as political warfare in the information age is also waged with disinformation, where the perpetrators are digital hitmen, mercenaries or genuine activists.[ii]
How to identify a digital hitman? Generally, most of them are anonymous, but they emphasize their issues, get comments from anonymous accounts and generally have far-reaching information, taken out of context, to support their attacks.
In the aforementioned foundation’s analysis, they establish that digital hitmen’s bullets can penetrate even prepared and well-intentioned leaders, and that tactics range from subtle messages thrown in the air to sophisticated digital campaigns. Digital hitmen are interested in instilling reasonable doubt about a person or cause in an unsuspecting recipient to achieve a reaction, and through these campaigns they silence or discredit important public policy debates.
The implication is that we should be cautious. All that glitters is not gold, and no matter how dazzled we are by the advancement of technology, we must keep our reason and focus awake. Even if the good guys outnumber the bad guys, the danger is that the bad guys work to do the bad guys and the good guys suffer.
[i] CAMPS, Magi, (2016) Digital or Digital?, La Vanguardia, Spain,
[ii] Hitman Digital (2017) http://repubica.gt/2017/07/27/sicariato-digital/