Sep 222014
 

During the last few weeks, a lot of big and important things happened on the internet. GamerGate, The Fappening, and the death of 4chan. Is 4chan really dead? No, it isn’t, but it might as well be to most of their decennium-long users. Somehow, these three things are all interconnected. “But how?” you’d ask. Well, that is what I’m setting out to explain in this new post on internet culture. For reference on The Fappening, read my previous article on it. I will write an elaborate post on ‘GamerGate’ soon(-ish), so I will only glance over the topic in this post. I will not use extensive references in this post, but rest assured that most claims are based on truth as most (certainly on the nature of 4chan) are taken from my academic thesis. Disclaimer, sentences and words between quotes mean I’m taking either quotes, or are paraphrasing 4chan slang.

4chan started as an image based message board in 2003 by a young boy called Christopher Poole, a.k.a. ‘Moot’ (Mootykins to some). Its anonymous nature became home to some of the more reclusive and creative people on the internet. Many things we now love or loathe on the internet, started there. Ragecomics? Originated on 4chan. Image macros (sometimes wrongly called memes)? Also 4chan. Even the Anonymous-movement started on 4chan, when users got fed up with the censoring ways of Scientology-lawyers after they tried ripping down any mention of Tom Cruise’s Scientology-recruitement video. Anonymous aided websites like Gawker (remember that name) by overflowing Scientology centers world-wide with phone calls, DDoS’s, and eventually a real life protest march. This movement, and later similar ‘projects’ like Lulzsec, were so interesting and new to political movements, that I wrote my Bachelors thesis about the influence of such movements on the political participation of young people.

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Sep 032014
 

A few days ago, there it was. Candid nudeshots of lots of celebrities. It was quickly called ‘the fappening’, dubbed after a pun between ‘fapping’ (masturbating) and ‘the happening’ (a buzzword used by lots of self-important hipsters). Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, some Disney stars I don’t know; all had their private pictures leak from ‘iCloud’, Apple’s cloud-storing program. Mainstream media jumped on this opportunity to blast sites like 4chan and Reddit for spreading these images, often calling those who did ‘vile, creepy 14-year olds’.  Though that may be true, there are a lot of misunderstandings in the mainstream media. This article aims to right some of those wrongs.

There never was ‘a’ hacker. There never was ‘a’ leak. There wasn’t even much of a ‘hack’ either. The hack that did take place was probably already over two years ago, as detailed by WIRED back when the iCloud was already reported to have vulnerabilities. This also explains why for instance Mary Elizabeth Winstead has stated that her pictures were deleted many years ago. This isn’t a fresh hack.

“But how do you know this?” I hear you thinking. Well, in order for that to be explained, you need to know a bit more about internet culture. For my thesis on Anonymous, I learned a lot about the ‘Deep Web’. Let us take the metaphor of the iceberg. What you see is about 20% of its total mass, while 80% lurks underwater. The deep web is the internet’s 80%. Though it doesn’t compare at all to 80% of the total internet (more like about 5%), the metaphor still stands. There are certain pages on the internet you can only reach using browsers like TOR, a browser that doesn’t record any traffic like normal browsers do with cookies. Trying to reach a deep web page with google chrome would just result in a ’404 page not found’ message.

TOR has since been compromised due to the FBI taking control over the servers about a year ago, but due to the nature of the browser, this probably didn’t last long after it was publicized.  There were a few setbacks to the deep net, but it still remains the number one spot for ordering illegal drugs, hiring hitmen, and yes, buying and selling nudes of celebrities. Most of this is financed with Bitcoins, on marketplaces like Silk Road. People post samples of found footage from celebrities, and offer to sell the entire sets. Or, they trade their pictures to other tech savvy individuals to enlarge their own collection. These pictures have probably been in circulation for years now, making it a ticking time bomb waiting to explode sooner or later.

Why did it get leaked now? With all good inside jokes, there’s always someone who explains it to the outside world. Someone who takes pride in being the one to explain it to the masses. In this case, a guy on the deep web bought into the ring. Instead of keeping the ring a secret, he thought of a way to earn money. He asked for donations to make the rest of the pictures available. He advertised his leak on 4chan, but didn’t get a lot of money. Soon, the pictures spread to Reddit, where a subreddit called ‘The Fappening’ was created to gather all leaked pictures from 4chan. Torrents were created on ThePirateBay with collections totalling about 500MB of pictures, making it easier to spread, download and save the nearly 400 pictures in one go. Meanwhile, image-hosting services like imgur where working their ass off trying to delete the pictures from their servers, resulting in links going dead within the hour.

‘The Fappening’ was originally going to be a multi-day event. However, since the initial day, there haven’t been any links that sparked lots of controversy. Of the about 90 celebrities the original poster talked about, only 30 have had their pictures leaked. Why? Because the guy leaking the pictures to the internet didn’t get enough donations. So, instead of ruining any future profits from selling the alleged videos of Jennifer Lawrence, he just stopped leaking. Money makes the world go round, they say. Money also makes nude shots of celebrities go around the internet. But when the money doesn’t come, so don’t millions of horny teenagers come to video’s of said celebrities.

I hope I educated you a bit about the internet in general, and ‘the Fappening’ especially. Moral of the story is, don’t take any shots of yourself nude. And certainly, certainly don’t upload them on any online service – be it protected with a password or not. This post might seem biased against these celebrities, but the fact of the matter is, there will always be people trying to circumvent certain boundaries to get what they want. This will happen both in the real world and in the online world. It is quite naive to think that, especially when you’re a celebrity, you’re safe on the web by just a single-step authentication.

Apr 142014
 

There are many ways to play DotA2. Not all of them are good. Some of them are outright preposterous. My style of play borders on the latter, which should make for some interesting viewing. So, have a look, and decide for yourselves. For this game, I recruited the help of Riki. Now Riki, you have to know, is one of the most annoying heroes to play against. Or with. I had a little practice with bots beforehand, so I wasn’t entirely green when jumping into the game. Will I finally be able to win a round? Have a look!

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Apr 132014
 

There are many games I suck at. FPS’s, MOBA’s (see: Sucking at DotA2), basically anything that requires skill. Unless it’s racing games. I devour racing games. I used to play them exclusively when I was a kid, with my dad’s steering wheel.  Nowadays, I only have two options to play racing games: keyboard or gamepad. I chose the latter, because playing a racing game with a keyboard is true hell. However, playing a serious simulator like GTR2 is not far off from being hell. Which must make the following video all the more entertaining. The first Race left a sour taste in my mouth, so I tried again – this time on Imola. Want to know if I did any better this time?

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Apr 122014
 

There are many games I suck at. FPS’s, MOBA’s (see: Sucking at DotA2), basically anything that requires skill. Unless it’s racing games. I devour racing games. I used to play them exclusively when I was a kid, with my dad’s steering wheel.  Nowadays, I only have two options to play racing games: keyboard or gamepad. I chose the latter, because playing a racing game with a keyboard is true hell. However, playing a serious simulator like GTR2 is not far off from being hell. Which must make the following video all the more entertaining.

Apr 122014
 

You might know Tower Defense games, but do you know this one? You might know Sanctum, which is a tower defense played from the first perspective. This is what in the gaming industry is called a ‘demake’ of said game. It features a top down perspective, with pixel art reminiscing of the monsters and guns from Sanctum. The game is made by the guys from Coffee Stain, which have gained recent fame with the physics sandbox ‘Goat Simulator’. This fun little tower defense game is also very, very cheap. On the moment of writing, it is on sale for only €0.39. That’s the same price as one Nespresso© cup. Enough talk. You want the video. And here it is!

Apr 112014
 

There are many ways to play DotA2. Not all of them are good. Some of them are outright preposterous. My style of play borders on the latter, which should make for some interesting viewing. So, have a look, and decide for yourselves. I’m playing Sniper for this game, the one hero I tried to play in the first video but couldn’t. I had some constructive criticism which I took to heart for this game, and it worked… kind of. Until my internet connection dropped out and I frantically tried to re-enter the game. But at that time, the tide had already turned. Curious about how I tried to fight back? Here’s the full video.

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