Despite its growth and spread and ever newfangled ways for delivering the “facts,” the Internet really isn’t much different now than it was more than a decade ago, at least in one way: it’s still giving factually-creative types everywhere an easy platform to spread whatever muck is swirling around in their brain. While that’s manifested in recent years by turning Internet discussion into a contest for clicks based on saying crazy things (birthers, deniers, truthers), the Internet has always been full of not-always-sane people yelling into cyberspace.
This October 22, 1999 episode of Net Cafe – the public television television series that chronicled the neon, scooter-powered, Netscape-ruled heyday of the late-‘90s dot-com era – examines the prevalence of conspiracy theories in the dial-up days. Foremost is the idea that the Internet is the first forum for the spread of information that the government had previously kept from the populace. The Y2K bug takes a prominent role in the discussion, which also meanders through online religious sects and biased online media coverage. How about the people that used to argue that WWW (as in the World Wide Web prefix) was a stand-in for 666? Is the Internet really the makings of the Beast itself? (That’s quite possible, actually.)
One thing is clear, however: twelve years ago, people were starting to ask, if the Internet gives everyone a voice, what happens when a whole hell of a lot of those voices are crazy?
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