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Authors: Oisín Sweeney

Tags: #True Crime, #Hacking, #Retail, #Computers & Technology, #Nonfiction

Hackers on Steroids

BOOK: Hackers on Steroids
7.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Hackers on Steroids





By Oisín Sweeney


Copyright © 2013                 




For all the moralfags I have worked with.


And for Damian, who even through the darkest of times managed to keep me laughing. I am still finding joy in all that Damian done.




Facebook was born and raised in controversy. Alleged campus misogyny at Harvard University, along with claims of idea piracy, betrayal, and greed have all been well-documented in lawsuits, books, and on the big screen. But, really, I don’t give a damn in the slightest about any of that. What is that to either you or me? What does matter, now, i
s that what is said to have been birthed in the dorm shared by Mark Zuckerberg as a way to annoy and hassle female students has now become the world’s premier tool for those whose ideas about hassling people far, far exceed rating women by their looks.


Since it was first launched back in 2004, Facebook has become a big part of many people’s lives. Close to 1000 million people from all across the globe now regularly use it, and who can know how many of those people’s lives are deeply affected by it all, how many relationships in all areas of life are won and lost each month because of the untold dramas being played out on the site itself, or acted out elsewhere because of it. The lives of many, many people are constantly churning inside the bottomless belly of Facebook. For the most part, though, this is not the concern of anyone else’s, including that of the social network. The company just gives people what they asked for: social networking profiles. Most of anything else is up to those people themselves. But it is also true that many people who use the website have come in for some severely unwelcome and unasked-for attention from the myriad of predators and psychopaths who freely roam the site seeking the most innocent and vulnerable people they can find on whom to feed; whether that is children being preyed on by the frighteningly large numbers of paedophiles who have swarmed onto the site; or bereaved people being chased and tormented by the howling abominations known as ‘RIP trolls,’ that now infamous species of creature born from the same sow as paedophiles and whose sadistic activities have risen to some prominence in the media in the last few years. And in these kinds of cases – as in other tales of horror from the Facebook crypt which I will deal with - it all should indeed be the business of everyone else, and especially the business of the social network itself, which so far has failed miserably in keeping its citizens safe from such predators and psychopaths. This book would like to expose those failings and offer, perhaps, a solution to the problem.


In part, this is also a story about how I found myself falling deep, deep down into the rabbit hole and into a place that most definitely gets curiouser and curiouser the more that you look around and explore it. It seems hard to believe that a whole subculture has sprung up online dedicated to the torturing of those in grief, yet such a subculture does most certainly exist and I am going to try and explain it – if indeed such an insane manifestation of hellish psyches and collective maddnesses can ever truly be ‘explained.’ How it all began and morphed into its current form, what insanities and delusions lie behind it, and especially what kinds of ‘people’ find enjoyment in becoming a part of such a monstrosity as RIP trolling are all dealt with here; or at least dealt with as to how I see them to be, anyway. If you want to know what kinds of specimens are behind all those attacks on online memorial pages that have been reported on in the media then this book will spare no detail. I want to clear the water somewhat in the dark pool that these creatures swim in, and if I can do that then maybe those who have been hurt by those same creatures can see them for what they truly are, and an understanding of why they do what they do may make the pain which they have wrought easier to deal with. It is outrageous that such pathetic and otherwise insignificant little beings have been allowed to have caused so much real pain for so many thousands of people when they can so easily be stood on and squashed into the ground.


I have also attempted to use humour at times when telling the story of these RIP trolls and their hangers-on. This is certainly not done with any intention to minimise the damage done by them to innocent and vulnerable people, as I am well aware of how seriously their actions against those whom they target should be taken. Rather, the humour is more about mocking the idiotic and utterly deluded views that they hold of themselves, and ridiculing the insanity and the inanity pervasive in the sad little online fantasy world which they have designed for themselves with the aim of escaping from their hateful realities. And, as the reader will see, some of the situations and characters thrown up by this world of theirs can be detailed in no other way than by attempting to employ the power of comedy. Because, honestly, there is simply no other way to explain a Malcolm Blackman or a ‘Robert Rooney’ other than through humour, as you will probably soon agree. There is just no other way. Your typical RIP troll can usually be found to be a cross between a character from a Thomas Harris novel and Dougal from the sitcom ‘Father Ted’; and laughing at such ultimately ludicrous beings may be found to have something of a cathartic effect.


But this book is not really about my mad adventures in the abyss, nor is it really about the characters contained herein these pages. I have written about, in the main, Facebook, as that is the site of which I have been the most familiar with as regards these dark happenings on the Internet. But it seems clear to me that what is written about here as regards child pornography networks and roving gangs of psychopaths can be transplanted to just about any big social networking site. The stories and characters contained within this book are merely just symptoms of a wider Internet horror story involving violent predators, raving-mad bands of fantasists, and bungling vigilantes. What this book is about really is the very real pain that is being caused to countless numbers of people by an Internet which has become a predator’s paradise. This is not an attack on dark humour as only a psychopath would put unspeakably vile attacks on the families and friends of dead children into any sort of category of humour at all. That’s not a subjective thing; it’s just that such a thing lacks the essential ingredients of humour. It is without humour, in the way that a pencil or a rock indisputably are without humour. I am not some Mary Whitehouse-type character raging against ‘indecency’ on the Web; unlike relatively harmless Facebook groups that have garnered some media opposition such as ‘Dead Baby Jokes’ or the like – which at least as far as I am aware do not set out to specifically target named individuals – RIP trolling is a true evil and a true obscenity in that it seeks to target and damage innocent and vulnerable people. That is the difference between it and actual dark humour (whether that humour is actually funny or the kind of witless crap to be found in the aforementioned ‘Dead Baby Jokes’ groups). No one of us is an angel, especially when it comes to how we sometimes use our words, but the subculture of RIP trolling – born and bred on the notorious and painfully unfunny 4Chan website - and all the other psychotic elements that it contains is not simply a case of individuals being ‘no angels.’ This is not about people just merely saying nasty things on the Internet, it goes way, way beyond that, and I think most people can feel in their bones the true evil embodied by a culture dedicated to the tormenting of the grieving.


I don’t care in the slightest as to what the reader thinks of me. Some may think me a horrible fascist ranting madly against some warped and mindless notion of ‘freedom of speech.’ Others still may think me quite mad, or sad, or ridiculous. I care not; the point of the story is not me. I just want to try and draw attention to what are some truly serious matters indeed, all of which have their roots in the ability of individuals to freely create as many fake social networking profiles as they so desire and of which RIP trolling is but one manifestation. There are real people being tortured, driven to suicide, and even murdered - along with countless children being groomed for abuse - in all of this darkness on the Internet, and that is the real story. I am under no illusions that this book is going to change a single thing about any of it all, but I feel that it would be worse if the story wasn’t told. There are many trolls to be found in this book, but this is not a fairy tale.


Chapter One. Finding
‘The Truth’




Oh what a tangled interweb we weave,

When first we practise to deceive.






So this is where we all let it hang out and can finally talk openly and share with like minded people? Wonderful!


Thanks to my new friends for helping me realise that I am more normal than I thought I was.


So was written on one Mistry Jung’s Facebook profile on October 1st 2010. Another satisfied Facebook user, and just one of at the time of writing in early 2012 coming on to 900 million individuals who have opened accounts on what is far and away the world’s largest social networking site. Facebook gives its members the benefits not only of staying in touch with old friends but also of making from all corners of the globe new friends who share in pursuits similar to their own.


‘Mistry Yung’ there certainly seems happy to have availed of the chance to have made contact with other similarly-minded folk who share in the same interests as him. And just over one week before on that same Facebook profile he could be seen boasting to his newfound friends about his ‘gorgeous’ 10-year-old daughter, speaking of how he was ‘teaching her things.’ Nothing much wrong with any of that until you consider the fact that ‘Mistry Yung’ is a paedophile, that his friends on Facebook are also paedophiles, and that they are all part of one of the largest and most public child pornography-sharing networks in the entire world. One that the multi-billion dollar business owned by the 28-year-old Mark Zuckerberg has full and long-term knowledge about and yet one which it refuses to take real measures to stop.


And then there are the ‘RIP trolls’ - those severely mentally disordered, debased, and cretinous monstrosities who freely prowl the site in great numbers seeking grieving families to torment over the deaths of their loved ones.


Welcome to the unsocial network.


My gruesome, mad, despairing, disturbing, and yet - considering the delusions of grandeur that the aforementioned trolls possess of their tragic little selves - sometimes hilarious odysse
y into this cyber abyss all began when I viewed the videos that creature was posting onto Youtube.


The particular creature in question being the anonymous sicko who had been targeting the families of dead kids through his use of the colossally popular video-sharing site. Evidently, he would scour news sources to find reports about the deaths of - for the most part - girls in their mid-teens, and once successful he would then try and track down their friends and family on either Facebook or Youtube. Once he found those people he would taunt them with links to homemade movies he had produced depicting their recently deceased loved ones with Nazi swastikas drawn over their eyes and beside garish lettering reading things like, ‘I’m a dead slut,’ alongside other disturbing and digitally altered images of the dead child, all of them intended to shock and horrify the already unspeakably distressed people.


At that point in my life in which I first encountered him I had, in my naivety, believed that I had become pretty much unshockable. It was my assumption that I had heard of every last evil on earth and they had all ceased to have much of an emotional effect on me, having grown through repetition numb to the hearing of it all. Just like most adult people in the world are these days, I suppose. But this was all new to me. To deliberately seek out and harass in some of the vilest ways imaginable people freshly grieving the loss of a much-loved child, this had really impacted on me. I just couldn’t believe that someone would do that. And it was all being played out month after month on my computer screen. I first came across this individual in 2006 and always assumed that sooner or later the police would catch up with him. By 2009 that still hadn’t happened and I wondered if it ever would. I resolved to find out who he was.


I now wish that I hadn’t.


It was nothing personal with me as he hadn’t done it to anyone I knew and I had only discovered all of this because this same individual linked to his Youtube videos from a now-defunct forum I was using at the time, but the ultra-shocking evil being committed here was just something that really, really got to somewhere deep inside of me. My flesh crawled at the thought of what this ‘person’ was like in reality, what sorts of other evils he could be plotting as his diseased brain twisted and screamed its way through its tortured consciousness day after day. I could ‘feel’ the malevolence coming from his actions, like they were a manifestation of pure, concentrated evil. For a couple of months then it became something of an obsession of mine to discover the identity of whoever this thing was, a pseudonymous someone known only to me then by his Internet moniker of ‘The_Truth,’ or numerous variations on that name. I really did feel that if he wasn’t exposed that he was going to progress on to murdering a child at some point in the future. Something inside of me told me that about him then and nothing I have learned about him since has changed my mind as to the size of the evil intent inside of him.


I would go through every clue that I could gather up about him as I followed him via the use of the Google search engine from message board to message board, jotting down everything which I thought could be of help in my search for his true identity. One of his usernames eventually led me to a forum linked to an annual music festival in England and as I went through the postings he had made on it, it became completely apparent that they were definitely from the same guy as whoever was posting as ‘Truth.’ He was contributing here as a somewhat normal individual (if one still deeply unpopular with the rest of the forum members), talking freely about the type of music he was into and the places he knew. He had also posted links to the vile videos he had made for Youtube, pretending to be as shocked and sickened by them as the rest of the people who had watched them.


After going through all of his postings on those pages, I came away armed with his date of birth, his home town, and his (appalling) musical tastes, all of which I then began to simultaneously Google in the hope of finding a social networking profile made by anyone who had all of those things in common. In turn, this led me to the Plenty of Fish dating site, on which a 23-year-old male from the city of Reading in England had posted all of his basic details on. This was in the May of 2009 and the individual on that dating site was one who was to gain widespread infamy two years later for doing exactly what I was hunting him for then. Sean Duffy had been sadistically preying on the families of dead children for years before his September 2011 high-profile jail sentence and the subsequent media coverage it created earned him both wrath and ridicule from millions worldwide.


After a bit more searching I then discovered Duffy’s genuine Youtube channel. On it were video stills of a short, fat, desperately ugly little pig-faced creature. In the videos themselves the creature would introduce itself as Sean Duffy and then go on to talk about the videos this ‘Truth’ character was making, and about his hope that, in his own words, the ‘evil bastard’ behind them would soon be caught. He had even befriended some of the people who he had victimised, telling them that it would all be okay and to ignore the evil scumbag who was harassing them. If this wasn’t enough to confirm to me that Duffy was indeed the object of my search, his genuine Youtube account along with all of his ‘Truth’ ones were all displaying the message that they had been ‘closed by the user’ five minutes after I, having made a Youtube account of my own, messaged one of these ‘Truth’ profiles a link to a photograph of Sean Duffy which was on the Plenty of Fish dating site. 


I had caught my first ‘Internet troll,’ a term that in the last few years has entered the general Western consciousness, but one which is horribly overused and is far too all-encompassing to be of much accuracy as a descriptor when applied on its own. In its basic form on the Internet, a troll is someone who deliberately winds up others by posting material designed to annoy or to cause offence in the hope of getting a reaction (although to ‘troll’ someone on the Web can also mean to have tricked them). So according to my rough estimations, that means then that at least 50% of the people who post on Internet message boards and at least 90% of the contributors to the notoriously witless cesspit which is the Youtube comments section could rightly be called ‘trolls.’ One would have to themselves be ‘trolling’ though to put someone who deliberately earns the ire of Beatles fans by going online to describe the Fab Four as a ‘fake and gay boyband’ into the same category as Sean Duffy. Trolling and trolling are just not the same thing. The Sean Duffy type of troll has given trolling a really bad name.


I’d argue that the likes of Mr Duffy do what they do for reasons far darker than mere windup, but nevertheless a troll is what he and others like him have become known as and so to as trolls will they be referred throughout much of this book (although I still feel it important to add in many cases the prefix ‘RIP’ before the world
to separate them from regular old Internet trolls). While the original meaning of the term
in online parlance is thought to be taken from the likewise named fishing practise of dragging a lure slowly along in the water as bait (and thus as the original online ‘trolls’ are said to have used subtle and deliberate fallacies to bait their targets with), in the context of the breed of savage that is the Duffy type of troll the comparison to nasty little non-human creatures cowering in dark and cavernous places seems much more apt; and indeed that is how I myself picture them as: as ‘real’ trolls, and their ‘trolling’ to be the demented and sadistic ravings of such.


The word itself as a descriptor for those who disrupt online communities is said to have first appeared among relatively early network users back in the 1980s. So even back in the days when the technology served as nothing much more than a communications system between different universities and science laboratories, it seems that people were still using the basic anonymity which being online provides to find ways of having a laugh by winding up other users.


As it should be, and good for them. Nothing wrong generally with winding up people. It’s healthy for a society - and the Internet basically is that - for a bit of good old-fashioned annoyance to be caused. Keeps the blood flowing among some at any rate.


And in fact many, many users of the Internet really fucking deserve to be winded up. They just do. Rabid, Nazi-sympathising armchair generals refighting World War II every night from their computer screens, most likely actually dressed in SS combat fatigues (that’s the impression which a lot of them give off). Earnest young Stalinists; so-called Christians who hate everyone and everything for Jesus; crazy barstool revolutionaries. By creating different personas and adopting satirical positions in extreme opposition to their own and yet simultaneously using their own hypocrisies against them I have, over the years, made all of these types of buffoon and more explode with anger and dedicate post after post of real hatred towards me on forums and I have cried genuine tears of laughter at it when it has happened.


So I have trolled. I have been a troll. I think trolling, when done right, is great fun. And even when done without a titter of wit it is still, for the vast majority of the time, completely harmless (if mostly terribly tedious).


But to my dying breath I would say that what Sean Duffy and his ilk do is something else entirely.


My trolling, as it were, was done on Internet message boards and message boards have a culture of anonymity, where it taken as granted that the participant will use for his or her self a pseudonym. This makes sense as it allows people to freely express their views without worrying about it coming back to them in real life. Almost everyone who uses a message board on the Internet does so under an assumed name. The Internet is populated with message boards on every subject under the sun: from politics to knitting to women’s breasts. Here, and on blogs, anonymity is a good thing. As well as allowing people like whistle-blowers and the politically repressed to speak out it also encourages particularly intense debating and fun satirical personas, allowing real sparks to fly and with any trolling done to other equally anonymous users hardly likely to have any real negative effect except on the most egotistical and excitable. And besides, because of their small size these message forums are in the main well-moderated and well-managed enough to stop things getting too out of hand. The ability to be anonymous on forums and blogs is a mostly harmless devilment.


This is not the case with the behemoths that are the social networking sites, and in particular the daddy of them all which is Facebook. These are the websites that encourage the sharing of ordinary peoples’ real lives. And I will show that the ease with which users can create an infinite number of accounts which use fake names and other false details - easily bypassing the laughable so-called ‘real name culture’ rule of Facebook - is leading again and again to grieving families suffering the most horrific abuse about the deaths of their loved ones; that it is encouraging and enabling paedophiles the world over in the stalking and sexual abuse of countless children from babies and up; and that it has even led to a number of murders.


BOOK: Hackers on Steroids
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