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The Dark Net

Inside the Digital Underworld

By Jamie Bartlett
13-minute read
Audio available
The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett

The Dark Net (2014) is a window into the internet’s nefarious underbelly. These blinks detail a trove of hidden online activity, from drug deals to illegal pornography to troubling discussions among suicidal teenagers.

  • Adventurous people who want to uncover everything the internet has to offer
  • Anyone concerned about all the terrible things happening online
  • Aspiring porn stars and anyone who wants to buy marijuana from their couch

Jamie Bartlett is Director of the Center for the Analysis of Social Media and a frequent contributor to the Daily Telegraph. The Dark Net is his first book.

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The Dark Net

Inside the Digital Underworld

By Jamie Bartlett
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett
Synopsis

The Dark Net (2014) is a window into the internet’s nefarious underbelly. These blinks detail a trove of hidden online activity, from drug deals to illegal pornography to troubling discussions among suicidal teenagers.

Key idea 1 of 8

The internet enables online threats to public figures and an insidious game called trolling.

Have you ever been insulted by a total stranger on an anonymous chat service or social network? If so, you’re not alone. It’s actually a common phenomenon, and one that can be especially troubling for high-profile people who are fighting for a controversial cause.

For instance, the success of the 2013 campaign to feature Jane Austen on the new ten-pound note in the UK was in part due to the work of feminist journalist Caroline Criado-Perez. But not everyone agreed with her message. She got thousands of troubling anti-feminist Twitter messages, some of which even contained threats of rape, violence and murder.

Criado-Perez was forced into hiding while the police arrested two people who had posted some of the most egregious threats. And Criado-Perez isn’t alone in suffering anonymous online abuse; this vile pastime is called trolling and it’s only getting worse.

Trolling is the act of making comments via the internet with the intention of upsetting other users and goading them into a reaction. The word stems from the verb “to troll,” which means to slowly drag a baited fishing line through the water.

Just how bad is it?

Well, there were 498 convictions in England and Wales related to aggressive, indecent or offensive online behavior in 2007. By 2012, that number had spiked to 1,423.

But trolling isn’t only about threatening other people’s lives. In reality, it’s often much more subtle and playful, with lots of trolls simply motivated by a desire to stir up trouble.

Just take Zach, a troll interviewed by the author. He joined a popular right-wing website and posted a poorly written message that complained about how uneducated conservatives were. He received loads of indignant messages in reply, to which he responded with a wave of messages containing pictures of his penis, literary quotations and various insults.

His only motivation was entertainment.

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