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Web Of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet is an anthology documentary series directed by Brian Knappenberger that explores examples of how digitally circulated disinformation has contributed to real-life chaos and, in extreme cases, death.

Initial shot: “Okay, we’re recording.” We then see the sound meter bars move up and down.

Essence: The first episode focuses on the practice of “slapping” when someone calls in a prank about holding hostages or something similar, forcing the city’s police department to be called in to send SWAT to the person’s home. This practice is of great importance among gamers who are aggressive towards each other online, with the most extreme of them doing things like spanking to get back at another player. Of course, such false positives cost law enforcement thousands of dollars and take resources where they are really needed.

It can also lead to some dire circumstances, as we see in the case of Tyler Barriss, who had a habit of making bomb threat calls to various schools around the country and then calling the TV station near his Los Angeles home. -Angeles. to see the live feed of the threat as the building is being evacuated. He was involved in dozens of practical jokes that sent him to county jail for more than a year. But when he came out, he started taking requests from people who wanted to slap other people; in a particular case, Call of Duty The user suggested that Barriss “slap” him and gave him an address in Wichita. It turned out that this was his previous address, and WPD SWAT teams shot and killed an innocent man, Andrew Finch, who died during the raid.

The Network of Pretense: Death, Lies, and the Internet
Photo: Netflix

What series does this remind you of? Network pretend could be an addition to a recent reality show digital addiction, although the shows themselves are not similar in tone. This is because the people who spread this misinformation online are often digital addicts themselves.

Our opinion: Network pretend is one of those true crime documentary series that asks a lot of questions to its viewers, mainly because the viewer can’t watch the show with a detachment that they can use to kill or something they can’t imagine. But a lot of what this series explores are online phenomena that can very easily happen to its viewers – perhaps it’s happening right now.

So you have to pull yourself together before you watch and accept the fact that, as one of Finch’s friends says in the first episode, “when [technology] used by two idiots, it creates havoc and creates disaster.” Terrible people have always been around, but the Internet has made it much easier to reach the general public, resulting in large-scale chaos. This is a fact of life in the 2020s that is hard to accept, which is why this documentary series can be difficult to watch and will be a harrowing experience for those who watch it.

There is an episode about the 2016 murder and the conspiracy theories it spawned, one about a woman who became a mouthpiece for the white supremacy movement, one about a sex extortionist, and two about hackers that caught the attention of the FBI. All these cases are not like those that happen to someone else, far away from us; they happen to normal people in the blink of an eye. And for people like Finch, fate is determined by people and situations in which he has nothing to do.

The beat episode relies too heavily on reenactments, but we get why they’re there; they show how dramatic the arrival of a SWAT team in your home really is. And then it becomes too important for the fact that the WPD officer who actually killed Finch was never charged with anything. But it certainly shows how things that appear to be pranks—not harmless pranks, but pranks nonetheless—can get out of control, and how the people who play them often don’t seem to know or care about the possible consequences.

Sex and skin: Nobody.

Parting Shot: Finch’s nephew, who considered his uncle a father figure, talks about how he can escape to the games so he has control and doesn’t have to think about tragedies like his uncle’s death. The irony did not escape the attention of Knappenberger and the audience.

Sleeping Star: Lisa Finch, Andrew’s mother, was a very determined woman, especially when lecturing at the Wichita City Council when they tried to seat her while she spoke of her grief over the fact that the cop who shot her son had not filed charges. .

Most pilot line: When Barris, on the phone from federal prison, where he is serving a 20-year sentence, describes the time he was hit, he says, “I just thought it was cool that [the guy who swatted me] could do it.” So, to get that point across, the actor playing him in the reenactment has a slight smirk on his face as he raises his hands in the face of all those cops. Ugh.

Our call: AFTER. As we said, you need to prepare a little to see Web Of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet, just so you can come to terms with the fact that terrible people can create a lot of serious problems online. But he is still informative, even if he treats these cases with too much sensationalism.

Joel Keller (ur.@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting, and technology, but doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, Rolling Stone.com, VanityFair.comFast Company, etc.

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