The Dark Net | Jamie Bartlett

Summary of: The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld
By: Jamie Bartlett

Introduction

Wander with us through the uncharted realms of the digital underworld in the book summary of The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett. Explore the intriguing and at times, unsettling truths about life behind the screen, from trolling and political extreme ideologies to online pornography and drug trading. This summary uncovers the deepest aspects of the dark side of the internet, providing an eye-opening glimpse into the lives of anonymous trolls, extremists, and even those who are struggling with their mental health, all seeking solace and connection through the hidden corners of cyberspace.

The Dark Side of Trolls

The author examines the concept of trolling and how it affects individuals and society. Trolling, a phenomenon whereby anonymous chat service or social media users make comments to upset other users and goad them into a reaction, can be especially troubling for high-profile people who are fighting for a controversial cause. By citing the example of feminist journalist Caroline Criado-Perez, who received thousands of troubling anti-feminist Twitter messages that contained threats of rape, violence, and murder, the author shows how trolls can cause serious harm to their targets. The author also explores how trolling has evolved from 498 convictions in England and Wales related to aggressive, indecent or offensive online behavior in 2007 to 1,423 by 2012. Additionally, the author shows that trolling isn’t only about threatening other people’s lives as it can be subtle and playful, with some trolls motivated only by a desire to stir up trouble.

The Online Haven for Extremists

Social media has become a safe haven for extremist ideologies, from white supremacists to lone terrorists.

In today’s digital age, social media has become an incognito outlet for people with extremist beliefs. While it’s unlikely to meet someone who would say something racist to your face, there are people online who are more vocal about these views. They have found a safe haven on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

These websites have become the preferred platform for people whose ideologies are not accepted by mainstream culture. The British National Party’s website, for example, has attracted more visitors than the websites of Labour or Conservative political parties. Meanwhile, neo-Nazi groups on Twitter can often be identified by usernames that include the numbers 14 and 88.

Online platforms have become the preferred way for white supremacists to meet and exchange ideas. However, it’s also the go-to mode of communication for lone terrorists who act alone like Anders Behring Breivik. Breivik’s source of contact with other extremists was entirely online before he carried out the 2011 terrorist attack in Norway.

Breivik wrote a 1,516-page manifesto titled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, where he warned against the threat to the white race and the rise of “cultural Marxism.” Even though he is now imprisoned, his manifesto is still widely circulated online by his supporters.

The frightening reality is that social media has become an easy place for extremists to network and plan. It should not be underestimated as an influential player in promoting radicalization and extremist behaviors.

The Dark Side of Pornography

It’s easy to stumble on illegal content while browsing porn, which can lead to an increased desire for taboo material. The internet’s links and pop-ups make it hard for people to avoid falling deeper into this spiral, despite the fact that most accidentally access it. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation found that nine out of ten adults who accessed illegal porn did so unintentionally. The taboo of watching something illegal triggers an adrenaline response that can increase viewer excitement and eventually lead to the viewer seeking out children in pornographic material. This is a major concern for law enforcement, as it is difficult to distinguish whether those caught watching illegal porn did so unintentionally or it was a conscious decision.

The Dark Side of Online Communities

Online communities have become a refuge for people struggling with serious depression and other mental health problems, but some of these communities can be dangerous. Self-harm and pro-anorexia communities are among the most controversial, and they can have devastating effects on vulnerable people. One of the first self-harm communities was alt.suicide.holiday, created in 1991. Although controversial, these communities can have positive effects on its members, giving support and understanding. The pro-ana community is one of the most dangerous, with a large number of websites devoted to promoting anorexia as a lifestyle choice rather than an illness. A study conducted in 2012 found that at least ten percent of young teens have visited pro-ana sites. These sites, however, can have devastating effects on those who fall into their trap, with stories of young people’s lives being destroyed by anorexia.

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