6 podcasts on the dark side of the internet

Startup episode: “What did you take?” »

Started during the early days of quarantine in March 2020, this affable show feels like listening to a conversation between two internet-savvy friends. One of the hosts, Ryan Broderick, used to co-host the beloved Buzzfeed podcast “Internet Explorer,” and brings the same curious and informative energy to this series about online content in all its forms. Broderick’s rapport with his co-host, British journalist Luke Bailey, keeps the tone light and accessible even when the subject matter is complex. Recent episodes have focused on mainstream tech stories — the crypto crash, the Netflix bubble burst — but others go down some really weird rabbit holes, like the mysterious world of Katie Couric CBD Scams on Facebook.

Startup episode: “Netflix’s Facebookification”

A vigilante hacker and a dogged journalist team up to take down a massive child pornography website. This extraordinary and horrifying true story, as captivating as the summary suggests, is a co-production of CBC Podcasts and the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang. Delving into the deepest recesses of the dark web, “Hunting Warhead” follows a month-long investigation by hacker Einar Stangvik and journalist Hakon Hoydal that ultimately leads to the downfall of a local politician. The show’s hard-nosed approach makes listening difficult: in addition to talking to interviewers, host Daemon Fairless, interviews website unrepentant owner, Ben Faulkner, who is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence.

Startup episode: “Hacker vs. Hacker”

At the end of 2014, the film industry was shaken by a extremely embarrassing hack. After Sony Pictures employees showed up for work one morning to find their computers inoperable, tons of confidential company data began leaking online, including salaries, contracts and unflattering email exchanges between the leaders. In a bizarre twist, the hack turned out to be motivated by the imminent release of a movie named “The Interview,” (with Seth Rogen and James Franco), which depicts a fictional plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un of North Korea. This tongue-in-cheek, richly reported podcast from the BBC World Service chronicles every twist of the saga and its implications far beyond Hollywood.

Startup episode: “Hollywood Hack”

When this WBUR series started, in 2017, it was a partnership with Reddit. At the time, hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson told stories inspired specifically by the chimerical virtual communities created by Reddit and the everyday mysteries it brings to light. (A classic episode focuses on a Reddit thread about a man who came across a huge, inexplicable pile of plates in rural Pennsylvania.) The partnership with Reddit ended and “Endless Thread” expanded to explore internet culture more generally – last year it debuted a delightful miniseries digging into the stories behind various memes As the rickroll. Although the tone is generally lighthearted, the show’s topics are as unpredictable and chaotic as the internet itself.

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