Tom Cruise has personally, PERSONALLY, been pwned. This weekend, an anonymous Internet group (named Anonymous — these are not masters of subtlety) started a war with the Church of Scientology by hammering the group's web site; Scientology.org is down after a brief traffic spike. This isn't the only group of Internet users unafraid of the intimidating cult; a whole range of sites has turned the Church into a mockery by doing what mainstream celebrity-coverage outlets wouldn't dare. Here's a guide to the war (and a creepy manifesto made by The Internet!).
This loose group of Internet vigilantes (vaguely centered around, but not officially connected to, the site 4chan) often harasses unsavory but small-time people, but they did help with the arrest of pedophile Chris Forcand. Their usual tactic is a simple denial of service attack like the one against Scientology.org, but they occasionally get more sophisticated; members tell me they plan to hoist banners above some Church branches. Inspired by the release of Tom Cruise's secret Scientology video and the Church's attempts to suppress it, Anon promises an all-out war in the following hokey but entertaining video:
The users are less aggressive, but Digg is a promotion machine for stories users feel are overlooked by the media. They love to stick it to the man, and they love the freedom of information. That's why the many popular Scientology criticisms on Digg focus on the Church's history of censorship. Digg promoted the Cruise video, but they gave much more love to the Church's takedown letter to Gawker.
The Church got the Cruise video removed from the site, but within a few days a new copy was up. Meanwhile there are plenty of parodies less likely to be deleted. The Church may have plenty of money to litigate, but if it tries to force the issue with YouTube, it'll find itself up against Google, which loves fighting bogus copyright claims.
The site is usually just a jumble of in-jokes, but after several users mocked Scientology's mythology, user Smoothmedia designed a presentation accusing the Church of destroying several lives and harassing critics. There's a copy on YouTube (which was popular on Digg, natch):
Mainstream media has criticized the Church too, but the most famous examples are parodies from comedy shows like South Park (in an episode later censored by Comedy Central) and Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show (which still didn't run footage from the actual video). Maybe media outlets don't want to lose pull with Cruise and his celebrity friends, or maybe they just don't care, but the Internet's doing a great job exposing the dangers of the cult. Thank Xenu for immature Internet teenagers!