A new YouTube video by hacker group Anonymous warns Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel that if the cartel doesn’t free a kidnapped member of the group, the hackers will expose the Zetas’ allies in the local police and news media to the world. In the video, Anonymous says it is “tired of the criminal group the Zetas, which is dedicated to kidnapping, stealing and extortion,” and that it will fight back with information instead of weapons.

An Anonymous member in a new YouTube video threatening the Zetas. (Image via YouTube)

Taken side by side, the videos begged the question — is Anonymous determined to be a group that works for good, or is just goofy? Do they want to be hacktivists or hacks?

In its early days, Anonymous had one goal, and that was entertainment. Their oft-quoted mission statement: “We are doing it for the lulz.” (Lulz being lingo for laughs.)

But by 2009, its members were reciting mantras that were far more sincere, such as “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” The group increasingly became associated with hacktivism, most often in protection of freedom of speech and the Internet.

But they continued to dabble in both the ridiculous and the serious. In January 2009, the group targeted a teenager who ran a No Cussing Club, resulting in his family receiving obscene phone calls and pornography deliveries to his house. Not six months later, the group together with other hacker groups in Iran helped start a serious protest site after there were allegations of vote rigging in the country’s presidential election.

They’ve become more sober this year, attacking the Zimbabwe government’s Web site for censoring WikiLeaks documents, the Spanish police for the arrests of Anonymous members, and San Francisco’s public transportation system for shutting down cell phone service.

But they have not lost their black humor, as they still favor Guy Fawkes masks, and as a quick listen of the Fox video will show. Despite their newfound earnestness, it seems Anonymous doesn’t want to lose all the lulz.

Watch the Zetas threat video:

And the Fox threat: