As I write this, in 2022, I realize I used to be afraid of the dystopian state and future that humanity could find itself facing due to tech. I just turned 24, and I hardly remember a world before social media. From a young age, I saw an upcoming fork in the road. One path could lead us to an easier world, a more fair world – a world where automation grants an easier life to all, a world in which we are free to spend our time with our families, with our passions. I yearned for this path. The other path looked much, much more sinister. Mass surveillance, manufactured consent, endless propaganda, a war on truth, a war on freedom of thought, and a limited range of socially acceptable discourse and debate all seemed likely.
By now you know that your online activities are an open secret and can be tracked by various parties. While some users resort to deploying VPNs, others activate the incognito or private mode when browsing to keep their online activities away from prying eyes. So, how private is the incognito…
The Blue Whale Challenge, also known as the Blue Whale Game, is purported to be a deadly game which targets teenagers online and through social media. Said to be named after the way a blue whale will beach itself and die, Blue Whale consists of 50 challenges, increasingly harmful, photographic completion of which you send back to your handler (known as the ‘curator’ or the ‘administrator’), with the final fiftieth challenge being suicide, also broadcast via social media.
Notre Dame athletic director, Jack Swarbrick has confirmed that the school’s star football player, Manti Te’o, is a victim of an Internet hoax. Te’o’s girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was a complete fabrication and reports that she died from leukemia during the 2012 football season are a lie. Initial reports had Te’o as part of the hoax, but Te’o and his family are flatly denying this, saying that Te’o is profoundly hurt and embarrassed by the entire situation.
Hacktivist Group Anonymous Takes Action as Revenge Porn Peddler, Hunter Moore Plans to Reopen Website that Allows Users to Upload Naked Pictures of Others, with Published Personal Addresses
Hunter Moore, the guy who invented revenge porn, is at it again and this time Internet hacktivist group Anonymous, specifically Kentucky Anonymous (@kyanonymous), has vowed to not let him get away with it in a campaign they’ve dubbed “Operation Hunt Hunter,” or, #OpHuntHunter. Despite the fact that he sold his original revenge porn website IsAnyoneUp.com, where users could submit naked pictures of others without consent, to an anti-bullying organization, and wrote what appeared to be a heartfelt letter apologizing for the mayhem his site caused, he told BetaBeat.com, “I literally had a half pound of cocaine on a fucking table with like 16 of my friends and we were busting up laughing taking turns writing this stupid letter.”
More information is coming to light about the situation with Google and David Barksdale, a Google engineer who used his access to the massive stores of data that Google has gathered about its own users to spy on the private lives (and data) of several Google users, who also happened to be minors. That’s right – Google employee David Barksdale was spying on children, even cyberbullying them, using the access that his position with Google afforded him to look at the private information of children. What’s more, it was going on for months.
Facebook has added a Facebook Panic button application, following an agreement with (read as capitulation to, but we don’t mean that pejoratively) UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). The way that it works, at least in theory, is that it provides an easy way for young people on Facebook (and their parents) to report suspicious activity – by which we mean activity that may be aimed at luring, stalking, or bullying minors – to both Facebook and CEOP.
Stories are swirling over a girl named Emma who allegedly committed suicide on Christmas eve, 2008, as the result of some Facebook status update messages aimed at her. The status update messages directed at “Emma” are indeed horrible (see image below), however, there is doubt that a girl named Emma actually committed suicide on Christmas eve, or at all, even though a Facebook fan page entitled “Teenager committed SUICIDE because of THIS status update – Leaked from 2008” would have you think otherwise. However, the story does match quite closely the suicide of Phoebe Prince, which occurred this January.
Amber Duick was minding her own business when she suddenly started receiving a series of scary emails from a Sebastian Bowler – a stranger who seemed not only to know who Duick is, but to know how to find her. Indeed, he knew her previous address, and generally where she lives now, and, he said, he was coming to her house to hide from the police. Amber was terrified – even sleeping with a machete by her bed and insisting that her boyfriend keep mace and a club by his side. Terrified, that is, until she learned that it was all an elaborate marketing stunt being carried out on behalf of Toyota. Toyota’s response? She asked for it, they say, by opting in to their marketing emails.
One would think that after the Megan Meier suicide and the case and cyberbullying law that flowed therefrom, that no right-thinking adult would be horrid – or foolish – fake posts on a public forum targetted at harrassing a teenager. But that’s just what Elizabeth Thrasher did, and to add to the unbelievable nature of her actions, she is from the same area of Missouri as Megan Meier’s tormentor!
If you were among those who were upset by the criminal conviction of Lori Drew – the mother behind the MySpace incident that lead to the suicide of thirteen-year-old Megan Meier – you are either about to be relieved, or outraged, depending on where you stood on the case. Lori Drew, who had been facing felony charges due to her involvement in the case, received, instead, three misdemeanor convictions. Now a Federal court is overturning those convictions.
The case against Lori Drew, the woman who was involved in the creation of a fake MySpace character that eventually lead to the suicide of troubled teen Megan Meier, who was the target of Drew’s charade, has concluded, and the Internet is in an uproar over the verdict.
Lori Drew, the Missouri mother who posed on MySpace as ‘Josh’, a 16-year-old boy, drawing 13-year-old Megan Meier into a fraudulent and faux relationship that ended tragically with Megan Meier taking her own life, has been named in a federal indictment and summoned to appear in US District Court in Los Angeles in June.
Concerned about the general increase in online crime, cyber-bullying, and sex offenders preying on underaged children, the state of Virginia has become the first to mandate that public schools offer Internet safety classes to all grade levels.