This article focuses on the rhetorical performance of justice and punishment on the website 419eater.com, one of the largest digilante social networks online. Digilantism refers to the growing practice among some Internet users, mostly based in the United States and the United Kingdom, who mete out extrajudicial punishment to cybercriminals such as scammers, hackers, and pedophiles. Although digilantism is a growing Internet subculture, short of newspaper coverage, little scholarly attention has been paid to the rhetorical, cultural, and sociohistorical dimensions of this new paradigm of do-it-yourself justice. The paucity of digital media research is particularly surprising given the explosion of popular and scholarly rhetoric on cyberterrorism, digital surveillance, and Internet security and safety. This article begins to address the gap in research by exploring the nuances of 419 digilantism to illustrate how the rise of cybercrime and attention to Nigerian criminal behavior in the late 1990s, along with the rhetorical culture of antiblack vigilantism, frames an operational paradigm for these digilantes.

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