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TELL NO ONE WE ARE WATCHING
~ The hackers responding to Kenny.
WHO IS DRIVER [...] WHO IS ROBBER?
~ The hackers when interacting with Kenny and Hector prior to their bank robbery.
The Hackers are an unnamed and anonymous group of cybercriminals who feature in the Black Mirror Season 3 episode "Shut Up and Dance" as the main antagonists. The group itself is rather nebulously-defined and no member has truly been identified to date, but it likely operates as a unified collective from various locations across the internet. Amoral and unimaginably cruel, the hackers are a collective of virtual torturers who attempt to lure potential victims into their "games" by disguising compromising Trojans and malware as legitimate online services. After the affected individuals are contacted they are then blackmailed into submission by the hackers, who generally use the worst things they can infer about these people to gain leverage over them. Although their victims are often far from innocent the hackers torture them psychologically by placing them in horrendous and inescapable scenarios over which they have an omnipotent level of control. Under the hackers' auspices, their victims may go as far as committing numerous serious offenses in a desperate bid to escape their clutches and to prevent their darkest secrets from being leaked to the world. Notable victims have included a nineteen-year-old busboy named Kenny and his middle-aged accomplice Hector.
Following their gauntlets, the victims of the hackers are let go and a grace period of sorts is initiated, during which they are led to believe that they have finally been let off the hook for what they have originally done. The hackers turn the tables on them at the last moment however, releasing the information accrued despite all that had been said and done and exposing their crimes to the world. Depending on the severity of the victims' original misdeeds the consequences of this can range from shame and humiliation to outright arrest while the hackers themselves get off without punishment for the part they played.
Although their modus operandi is evident in their interactions with victims the ultimate motivation of the hackers is unclear and poses many questions. While it could very well be that the hackers are merely exaggerated caricatures of Internet vigilantes resorting to extreme means in punishing wrongdoers, at the same time it may also be the case that they originally began by blackmailing upstanding individuals before moving to less-than-ideal people once they realized that they had much more to lose. In any case, the hackers were known to have set their sights on five individuals in particular, a hotel chain CEO with racist views, a delivery bike rider, a young pedophile named Kenny, Hector, a middle-aged businessman who was dissatisfied with his life, and a married older pedophile. For instance, the hackers were able to access the CEO’s corporate email account and recorded the teenager masturbating through his webcam after he unknowingly downloaded a phony anti-virus software, using that footage to exert leverage over him; the hackers also cloned the teenager’s hard drive, which contained indecent images of children. Once the hackers had their victims wrapped around their fingers they terrorized them by accessing their digital devices and tracking their every move via GPS. In the teenager's case at the very least, the hackers made him go on a bizarre and increasingly-distressing scavenger hunt of sorts across the English suburbs, leading to him committing an armed robbery and finally being forced into a fight to the death with the married pedophile. With the CEO the hackers obtained emails of a racist nature and threatened to release them to tabloid newspapers, and with the businessman, the hackers threatened to reveal his infidelity to his wife. Although no member of this collective has been identified to date, two possible hackers have been spotted by both Kenny and Hector during their time together although that could very well have been the result of their paranoia.
When dealing with Kenny and Hector the hackers chose to throw them both together as they knew that Kenny would require transportation for his assigned tasks, and although the bank robbery they had both been forced into could have gone many ways the intent was likely for Kenny to carry it out as opposed to Hector due to the fact that he had much more to lose. Throughout their period of collaboration, the hackers constantly observed Kenny and Hector's whereabouts on GPS, making their designated routes extremely clear and not tolerating them deviating at all from their plan. When the two picked up a friend of Hector's under the guise of being uncle and nephew the hackers aggressively spammed their inboxes warning them that they were going the wrong way, prompting Hector to drive around town recklessly to get their passenger out of the way as soon as possible. Once Kenny and Hector arrived at their target destination the hackers beckoned them to look in the cake that had been delivered to Kenny by the moped rider. To their utmost shock, the two found a handgun concealed within the cake, in addition to a pair of yellow-tinted sunshades and an unmarked blue baseball cap. It is uncertain if the gun was even real, to begin with, or how the hackers were able to obtain it if it was, but whatever the case their master plan became clear to their victims at last. With the two parked across the street from a bank, the hackers finally implored them via text to decide within five minutes who would be the "driver" and who would be the "robber". Hector insisted on being the driver due to his greater experience, leaving a shattered and tormented Kenny with no other option but to carry out a bank robbery on his own.
Once the two were finally in the clear the hackers directed them to an obscure location in the English countryside of Oxfordshire, intending to separate them once and for all. Hector was ordered to destroy the getaway vehicle they had sourced from a hotel parking lot left there by the CEO, ostensibly to destroy any evidence pertaining to the robbery, whereas Kenny was told to venture into a nearby forest with the stolen cash handy where further instructions were to be followed. On arrival at the designated spot, Kenny quickly found that the hackers had also deployed another person to the same location, an alcoholic pedophile with a video drone that broadcasted a constant live feed of their interaction to the hackers. After a brief verbal confrontation, the two pedophiles engaged in a brutal fistfight as was expected of them both, with the hackers watching intently via the drone. Against all odds, a shame-ridden Kenny emerged victorious, albeit with his psyche ultimately being broken by having just killed a man in cold blood. With the five individuals all having run their collective gauntlet the hackers then initiated a sort of grace period wherein they ceased contact with their victims for an indeterminate amount of time, making it seem as though they were all able to atone for their sins. Later that night it soon became clear to the disparate group that their tormentors had no intention of letting them go so easily even despite all that had been said and done. With the collected information handy the group proceeded to leak everything they had accrued about their victims to the open internet, resulting in the very consequences they all feared.
Aggressive, amoral and heartless, the hackers are effectively a personification of the worst aspects of the online world—anonymous, all-seeing and all-knowing. Although it can be argued that the hackers are merely internet vigilantes who resort to extreme means in bringing about punishment for criminals and wrongdoers such as pedophiles, racists and cheaters the fact that they often terrorize and endanger comparably-innocent people by proxy and gleefully so points to the contrary. Despite going after criminals or other unsavory characters the hackers themselves have many crimes under their belt, some particularly serious, and with that in mind, the hackers likely care very little about what their victims have or have not done and instead put them through hell for the joy of seeing "bad people" suffer. As an example, in addition to being in possession of and later leaking Kenny's masturbation footage it is also entirely possible that they recorded the footage of Kenny and the Man in the Woods fighting to the death to later sell on the deep web. Although the hackers are a force to be reckoned with no doubt their rather-juvenile way of typing and extremely passive-aggressive attitudes seem to point towards something like a group of youths hosting a LAN party as opposed to a legitimate hacking organization like Anonymous.
Although the hackers are visibly extremely cruel and unrelenting in their interactions with victims the worst aspect of their characters is their seeming lack of any humanity whatsoever. They have no empathy at all for any of their victims and seemingly do what they do because it is “fun”, and not because of some deeply-rooted moral convictions. It is shown that when they leak the information gathered on a victim of theirs they send the punished individual a troll face meme to mock them for their predicament, a sure sign of their sadistic impulses and a not-so-subtle hint as to what their real motivations are.
The supposed malware software that Kenny used to give the hackers access to his computer is called "Shrive", which means to confess one sins, fitting perfectly with the theme of the hackers blackmailing others for their wrongdoings.