Photo: Profimedia Images

One of the conspiracy theories states that the internet is “dead” since 2016. How did this hypothesis come about and why is it successful?

The ground is flat and coronavirus vaccines introduce 5G chips. These are some of the most unlikely and sometimes dangerous conspiracy theories circulating on the Internet. But one of these conspiracy theories claims that the internet itself has been “dead” for many years, the web no longer actually exists, and much of the content we find on the net was actually created by robots. . 

This theory of the “dead” internet was recently discussed by the American magazine The Atlantic , where journalist Kaitlyn Tiffany published an investigation , after her attention was drawn to a discussion captured on a forum, Agora Road’s Macintosh Cafe. It is a discussion platform initially dedicated to vaporwave culture, an artistic movement generated by a certain genre of electronic music, but where users sometimes discuss conspiracy theories.

The “dead internet” hypothesis was developed in a lengthy text published on January 5, 2021 by a user whose pseudonym was IlluminatiPirate (a reference to another widespread conspiracy theory). The title of his post was “The Theory of the Dead Internet: Most of the Web is False.” Maintaining his anonymity, the author told The Atlantic that he is an operations supervisor at a California logistics company. He claims that the theory he describes in his post was taken from users of other online chat platforms.

What does the “dead” internet theory say?

According to this theory, the Internet would have “died” in 2016 or 2017. What does this mean, in the author’s view? The Internet seems “empty and empty” and “completely unproductive.” The author claims that artificial intelligence networks, in other words robots, operate in collaboration with influencers secretly paid by anonymous people. That is, in fact, behind much of the content published on the Internet, content that is otherwise supposed to be created by humans. The purpose of such an operation would be to create consumers who will buy “an ever-widening range of cultural products by new standards.”

As an argument for his theory, IlluminatiPirate claims that the users he had contacted on the internet “all disappeared without a trace”. In addition, he noted that “the same discussions, the same photos and the same answers have been posted endlessly over the years.”

The “dead internet” theory, however, remains “niche” among conspiracy ideas, says The Atlanti c, but the author of the survey notes that a video in Spanish on the subject, posted on YouTube, had over 260,000 views from May 2021 to towards the end of August 2021.

Why is this theory false?

Of course, the internet is not “dead”, and the content you see is not created by cars, but by people. But there is a real part to the role of “robots”: artificial intelligence is responsible for the selection of search content and traffic.

In 2020, 40% of global internet traffic originated in the activities of “bots”, according to the American cyber security company Imperva. What is a “bot”? It is a software, a program, that works autonomously and automatically. Sometimes, these “bots” can be malware.

What do these “bots” do? Some are “chatbots”, conversational robots used to automatically provide information to internet users. Others are used to generate fake views on streaming platforms, allowing account holders to sell ads at a higher rate. There are also “bots” used to spread false information or to create so-called deepfakes , videos that look very real, but are completely artificial, often used for malicious purposes.

But all these elements, even if they exist, do not mean that the conspiracy theory about the “dead internet” is realistic. What is posted on the internet, including press articles, is created by people.

You May Also Like

More From Author