1-Sentence-Summary: The Dark Net dives into the details of the wildest and most dangerous parts of the digital world, including self-harmers, cryptocurrency programmers, computer scientists, hackers, extremists, pornographers, vigilantes, and much more.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
The internet has completely revolutionized pretty much everything we do in today’s world. It is no doubt one of humanity’s greatest inventions thus far. But beyond the world of Google, Facebook, and online media most of us inhabit, there is a darker, more sinister side of the internet hidden from plain view.
This place is known as the Dark Net. It’s a place where things like cryptocurrency, illegal pornography, drug deals, radicalism, and QAnon thrive. Anonymity allows people to do and be anything they want. In this world, people can be anything from vigilantes to dangerous criminals.
In The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett, we get a fascinating look into the internet’s dark underbelly. You’ll learn how this hidden world provides a haven for people seeking more privacy and what kinds of things they do with that privacy.
These are the 3 most memorable lessons I got out of this book:
- The internet is a haven for people with radical belief systems like terrorists and political extremists.
- Some places online are so terrible that they encourage anorexia or convince people to take their own lives.
- Technological advances have paved the way for alternative digital money systems that can transcend the powers and inefficiencies of government.
Strap in because you’re about to learn just how deep and dark the internet gets!
Lesson 1: Political extremists and terrorists have found a home for their radical beliefs on the internet.
Hearing someone we know say something racist can make us shock at one point in our lives. But online, we seem to see racism all over the place. That’s because some people are a lot less shy about being racist when they can hide behind a computer screen.
Common social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube provide discreet places for political extremists to share content and ideas not accepted by mainstream culture.
According to the UK’s website ranking platform Alexa, the most visited political party website in the UK in recent years is the right-wing extremist British National Party site. It brings in more visits than the Conservative or the Labor Party combined.
On Twitter, neo-nazis have found a place to share political beliefs. One can easily identify their usernames they used since they often have 88 or 14 on them. Number 88 stands for the eighth letter of the alphabet “H,” which, when doubled, stands for “Heil Hitler.” 14 stands for the 14 words they subscribe to, which are: “We must secure the future of our people and a future for white children.”
In addition to helping white supremacists get together virtually, the internet is also a preferred place for terrorists to share ideas. One example of this is Anders Breivik, the man responsible for the 2011 attack in Norway that took 69 lives.
Breivik was obsessed with extremist blogs discussing the modern threats to the white race. Before the attack, he published a 1,516-page manifesto online declaring the need for whites to fight back and reclaim their superior position. While he’s currently spending life in prison, his manifesto still circulates online via his anonymous supporters.
Lesson 2: Some really dark places online trying to convince people to do terrible things.
Though many people struggle with serious depression, it’s often hard for them to find someone they can share their dark thoughts and emotional struggles with. So naturally, these people often turn to the internet.
Some of the most controversial online communities are those that discuss self-harm. In the 90s, social media forums such as Unset allowed people to talk about suicidal thoughts. Many were alarmed to find people in these groups discussing methods for self-harm and suicide.
However, the author does say there are people he had talked to, like 30-year-old Gerard, who said these groups saved his life by giving him a place to talk about his suicidal thoughts and depression when the “normal” world didn’t want to listen.
Online groups discussing anorexia are also a popular place for people to chat anonymously online. Unfortunately, some websites are pro-anorexia or also called pro-ana. On the other hand, they still have some websites that can be helpful to those suffering from the disorder. These websites portray the illness as a lifestyle choice and encourage weight-loss plans among group members.
University of Suffolk professor Dr. Emma Bond led research into these sites in 2012 and discovered over 400 pro-ana websites and blogs. A study by the European Union found that at least ten percent of teens have been to one of these sites on at least one occasion.
Lesson 3: Our money system as we know it is about to change forever because of recent technological advancements.
The biggest change to our financial system in centuries is here: the rise of online currency. While most of us probably only were aware of it recently, it has actually been around since the 90s.
This was when computer cryptographer David Chaum invented DigiCash – a digital currency. Each money unit was assigned a unique number that they could easily transfer among online users. But the flaw of this currency was that these number strings were too easy to copy, making the currency lose value.
Because of this, Chaum built a central ledger to track transactions, and no currency was duplicated. However, the system was built solely around one control system, it was deemed too risky, and the idea lost steam.
Fast-forward to 2008. People who went by the alias Satoshi created the first functional digital currency – Bitcoin. With the use of blockchain, It fixed the problems with Chaum’s model.
A blockchain is a public ledger that records all transactions and distributes this record across the entire network of computers, making it extremely hard to duplicate or hack the system. Every Bitcoin user’s computer is constantly testing for duplication. Essentially, this revolutionary technology provides a completely secure online currency free from any government’s influence. In addition, each user can be completely anonymous, meaning no one can track how you’re spending your money online.
The Dark Net Review
I’ve seen some pretty crazy things online, but this just blew my mind. The Dark Net is horrific but uncovers some things that we must bring to light if we want to stop them. Although I do wish there were more ideas in the book about ending some of these awful things.
Who would I recommend The Dark Net summary to?
The 67-year-old who doesn’t think the internet is that bad. The 22-year-old that’s curious about just how much they can do online and anyone who has a digital presence.