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The internet has become as much a daily part of everyone's life as eating and drinking. We log on to order Grubhub, ask our internet-connected smart home AI devices about the forecast, stream Netflix instead of watching cable, and also message one another via email rather than the once-ubiquitous "snail mail."
We love the internet. We rely on the internet and the wonderful gadgets and gizmos that have been created based on it. We love downloading photos of cats and adding captions to them. We are all denizens of the World Wide Web.
However, there's still a dark side to it. There's the Dark Web, rumors of organized crime cabals, and of course, the many times when the net took a turn for the worst. As great as the net can be, if you look at some of the terrifying facts about the internet, you might feel a bit uneasy. Heck, you might even be downright horrified.
Here are some of the creepiest, most disturbingly chilling facts about the net we all know and love...
There are search engines that let you see security cameras, nuclear power plant cameras, and more—and they're public.
If there's one thing that most of us don't want to hear, it's that random people can find devices that are linked up to the internet using a search engine. What's terrifying about this is that it's possible, and people have seen everything from security cameras to nuclear power plant footage through a simple online search.
Shodan, nicknamed the "scariest search engine of the internet" uses the Internet of Things to let people peer into other peoples' devices and see what they see.
It can pick up stuff from your mobile device and from security cameras that haven't been cared for. As long as your device is linked to the net, it's potentially possible to have it show up on Shodan.
The rumors of "red rooms" weren't always rumors, after all.
One of the most terrifying stories about the Dark Web is the concept of a "red room." A red room is allegedly a torture chamber that pays people to kill others for the enjoyment of viewers who access streams from the Dark Web.
For the most part, the idea of a red room has remained in the world of urban legends and horror movies like Hostel. However, there was one case which could be argued as evidence of a real red room—and that's one of the most terrifying facts about the internet.
The "Daisy's Destruction Killer" is a very real case that was handled by Philippine police.The killer, Peter Scully, was caught with pornographic tapes of his victims. A body of an 11-year-old victim was found in his home. Scully and the accomplices that made the red room are now serving life in prison.
The internet Echo Chamber Effect has worsened rates of "lone wolf attacks."
One of the better-known facts about the internet is that it's able to connect you to people who share your interests—no matter how rare that interest is. That can be great in small doses, and can offer many people companionship regular life wouldn't be able to give them.
The problem is that the Echo Chamber Effect comes into play. Birds of a feather tend to flock together, and this is doubly true when you have entire systems geared towards making it happen.
Internet algorithms are designed to work in a way that show people sites and forums of similar interests. This gives them content that only reinforces their own beliefs without opposing viewpoints.
With people who feel slighted or marginalized by mainstream society, echo chambers often turn into places where their beliefs fester or become toxic. This, in turn, creates extremist cliques on the net, such as the forum that Elliot Rodger went on prior to shooting people at his university.
'To Catch a Predator' was onto something.
We all remember the classic Dateline NBC miniseries called To Catch a Predator. Most of the time, we remember it when we hear someone impersonate Chris Hansen when he asks a pedophile to "take a seat over there."
Though it may be an old show, the fact is that it remains just as relevant today as it did back in the early 2000s. Recent investigations show that around 1 out of every 20 kids under the age of 18 have met up with someone they met on the net in secret.
For parents, this is one of the most worrisome facts about the internet. It's also ample reason to reconsider giving your kid an iPad, don't you think?
Cicada3301 was a real recruiting tool—but for who, we don't know.
If you were a fan of the net's weird side during the last decade, you probably have heard of Cicada 3301. This strange puzzle recruitment tool was shared on a number of forums during the mid-2000s.
Every year, the anonymous group behind Cicada 3301 sends out a massive, multilevel puzzle. The makers of the puzzles involved extremely high-level cryptography, programming, and tech skills in each solution.
The anonymous group behind Cicada 3301 also promised a great opportunity for those who could solve the puzzle in its entirety. So far, multiple winners have been declared, with one or two winners being declared at the end of each year.
The Cicada 3301 series quickly took the net by storm. To date, no one knows who 3301 is, or what they're recruiting for.
Only seven people hold the keys to the internet.
No, we're not making this up. Should the infrastructure that upholds the internet come under attack, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has designated seven people to be the ones to uphold the net using a series of keys.
Each key has seven copies. Every key is a part of a program that helps uphold the DNS registry that our net is based on. In order to restore content to the net, they have to meet and put them together.
DIY vasectomy kits have been found online.
It's not surprising that many people have started to turn to the net in order to get the healthcare that they need to have. That's the idea behind telemedicine companies like Maven. Unlike Maven, some companies are more about offering botched solutions as long as they profit at any cost.
One of the more terrifying facts about the internet is how often bad medicine ends up becoming commoditized as an cheap way to get your treatment. In recent years, one Dark Web company made headlines after a DIY vasectomy kit was found being sold online.
Since the initial headlines were released, a bunch of "joke kits" were found online. Though sellers claimed it was fake, many are still not entirely sure if it's totally satirical. To date, this is one of the craziest things you can buy on the Dark Web.
People have gotten killed from internet "pranks."
We've all watched hours of videos involving pranks on YouTube, but sometimes, it gets to be too much. While this is one of the more obvious facts about the internet on this list, it's worth pointing out again.
SWATting, a rather uncommon form of pranking, has been used as a way to scare people or intimidate them. This prank involves a distress call to authorities claiming that you are being held against your will. This causes SWAT teams to enter your home and threaten you with guns.
It's all fun and games until someone winds up dead, apparently. One SWAT prank went awry when the authorities opened fire on the gamer who was pranked. The gamer, Andrew Finch, was killed on live camera in front of his fellow gamer friends.
Social media has caused our brains to become more anxious, narcissistic, and impatient.
It seems like all that social networking really isn't that good for you. A number of studies have shown that exposure to social media, especially among young teens, has a tendency to encourage narcissism, shallow behavior, and reduce attention spans.
Other studies also noted that people who become addicted to social media are more likely to be depressed and experience the feeling that they are "missing out" on a better life. Much of this could be due to the illusory nature of social media like Instagram.
The internet knows a lot more about you than you think.
Google and Facebook recently revealed small glimpses into how much personal data they really collect. Users, even those who are "anonymous," can be identified by face, political leaning, who they have a crush on, where they live, where they work, and your money habits.
Unlike most other facts about the internet on this list, this is one that we tend to embrace. It makes our net experience a lot nicer. But, wouldn't it be better if we had a little more privacy?