The Internet Is Really Creepy Sometimes


If, while posting selfies to Twitter and reblogging Pacific Rim GIFs on Tumblr, you ever feel a pang of nostalgia for the Wilder Westier days of the Internet, here’s a story for you:

In January of 2012, a mysterious series of advanced cryptological puzzles with a creepy cicada theme led hackers and codebreakers on a chase deep into the darker parts of the web. Then whoever was posting the messages declared, “We have now found the individuals we sought”—only to restart and re-end again in January of 2013.

Is/was it a CIA recruitment strategy? An “I Love Bees”–style stealth-marketing campaign? A bit of performance art à la @horse_ebooks? No one knows.

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →