What will change if we are forced to move our social circle to virtual lands, browse the web anonymously, and stay permanently at home? Will there still be any crime? Will nations still exist, and will they go to war with each other?
In this world of isolation, information is everything, and those who have information are considerably better off than those who don’t. Information is fought over, information is protected, and information is proprietary. Those with information rule over those without it and every means to acquire information is considered acceptable.
[Stay on top of issues surrounding digital freedom. Sign up for the ExpressVPN blog newsletter.]
Further, misinformation can be sold as genuine, and agencies will produce news, similar to how a factory will produce sneakers. Misinformation can also be spread to increase the value of genuine information—anything confusing or difficult to assess will only increase the market price for the authenticated truth.
To make lucrative business trading information, agencies will collect the truth, disseminate it, analyze it, repackage it, and distribute it. To find the actual facts, people will have to get to the source, observe it, or steal it from those that have it.
War and torture in the digital age
Before wars moved into the virtual world, intelligence officers would primarily use fear and pain to control their subjects and squeeze them for information. For example, waterboarding induces an imminent feeling of drowning, which convinces the victim that they can only save their life by giving up information.
Digitally, our physical bodies are safe from such torture—we cannot drown in Minecraft or have our fingers cut off playing Skyrim. But our minds remain vulnerable to the fear of losing our virtual property, our social status, and our circle of friends. The threat of social isolation alone can be powerful enough to coerce us.
Torturing in the virtual world requires resources and coordination, but there are no mechanisms to protect against it. Those with access to servers can easily make your island in Animal Crossing disappear, or take away your rare items in League of Legends.
Social media has already made us familiar with the concept of the Shadowban. Without explicitly telling us, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter can hide our posts and profiles from others’ feeds, making our posts invisible (unless someone specifically looks for them). A lack of likes, retweets, and upvotes can make us feel unwanted, rejected, and unpopular.
On platforms like Facebook, this ability to “mute” users without their knowledge is passed on to page and group moderators. It can lead to mental exhaustion among its targets. The initial feelings of rejection and dismissal later yield to a sense of invisibility. The “silent treatment” has long been used as punishment, and now we have built apps around it.
The psychological effects of online experiences
Hacking the human body is not too different from hacking a machine. You have to learn about its functions, its weaknesses, and its hidden controls.
Being made a digital outcast does not immediately make us reveal our secrets, but it does make us vulnerable. Our craving for recognition and acceptance makes us more susceptible to any attention, allowing a malicious social hacker to exploit our unhappiness and use it to turn us against our peers (or reveal their vulnerabilities).
What you see online is proven to affect you, and whoever controls your feed can control your mood. This can be readily exploited by anyone that appears supportive or caring, which makes it challenging to find new friends or even trust old ones.
Being bullied is a traumatic experience, and inflicting pain or suffering onto others amounts to torture. Cybertorture can be used for financial or political gain, information, gaining influence, or simply out of sadism. And we are only at the very beginning of understanding the threat, and so far, we don’t know how to combat it.
I am so interested to see this post. I am 35, I have friends and a partner and a good life in many respects. That said I ended up getting pulled into a horrific situation online of profound cybertorture that nearly ruined my life. It was sophisticated, high level controlling “bullying” that cut me off from friends, isolated and confused me and the perpetrators used fear tactics to keep me confused and isolated. I still to this day have no privacy on our home network and lost an entire social scene. Police do nothing and do not even begin to understand the extent of what is possible. I have reported it to numerous government “cyber crime” things and a personal friend who is a in cyber forensics has said I can secure things but there is aways a way someone can get in. I believe they are controlling and torturing large numbers of people ,for what purpose? I assume attached to crime, I have wondered if its government, and even just people who have antisocial personality disorders that are using abuse tactics as game. what the fuck dudes, what do we do? I am totally willing to try to figure this out but I need help and I feel constantly watched on my devices
It takes years to build a database. In order to get the most accurate data, they have the government slandering people everywhere they go, so they can not get married, be employed by any company. THat creates an opportunity for them to zone in their targets, control the target, where they work, keep them from being able to do pretty much any thing, the target has to do as told if they don’t want physical asaults such as pain as someone punching, pricking you,. And don’t expect the world to come in and save you because this is the government, they assassinate anyone who comes near target in order to get stuff done. At this point it’s pretty bad, because they are very closed to fully map out the brain. I wouldn’t want to be american citizen if I were you .
The UN is investigating another form of cybertorture that involves remotely physically torturing a person and psychological abuse of what is called “targeted individuals.”
I am also a victim and experienced all of these from 2018-2020. Definitely the most horrifying experience of my life.
MANY CYBERTORTURE VICTIMS EXPERIENCE ALL THIS. Reading of thoughts, Microwave Hearing, Artificial Dreams, forced visions/hallucinations, forced muscle quaking, electric shocks all over the body, have certain thoughts activate muscle twitching, AI systems commenting on thoughts, AI mimicking voices of certain specific people and talking through microwave hearing, realtime hivemind synchronicity between victims and stalkers, stalkers on the street commenting on private thoughts, electromagnetic rape of sexual organs. Many researchers think this is all done through each target having a ‘Digital Twin’ simulation model from brain information, to create personalized torture from.
I’m a Victim
I’m one of the victims, for many years.