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The Twit-Worm Exists

We laughed during the Futurama episode “Attack of the Killer App” as millions of people became infected with Mom’s “Twit-worm” and lumbered like zombies to the apple store. In this episode, Matt Groening satirizes the control that corporate marketing machines like Facebook and Twitter have over us. He shows how they can turn us into mindless consumers through a constant barrage of targeted advertising. As Hermes remarks in one scene after an advertisement for a pizza shows up on his computer: “This thing always knows what I want!” This kind of marketing interaction is actually occurring constantly even as I sit here to type this post. What hasn’t happened yet is the mind control that Futurama jokingly suggests. But is it a joke? Could that actually happen? While the answer might seem to be an obvious “no,” the possibility of this might be more realistic than one would think.

As technology continues to advance, we begin to incorporate it more into our bodies. Artificial hearts and cochlear implants are just a few examples of the invasive application of technology. Therefore, it is not a huge leap to say that in the future it is possible that our communication devices might be integrated with our bodies and possibly our minds. This is where things begin to get scary. Why exactly? Well I’ll tell you. If every person’s body is connected to an interconnected network, the the same technology that helps them can also be used to break them down. If you question the power of a malevolent entity to spread to the users of a network, just consider the “Mikeyy” worm that invaded Twitter in 2009. Users would be prompted to click on a harmless looking advertisement and as soon as they did their twitter account began immediately sending out thousands of links unwillingly to every follower that the individual had. If the follower clicked on the link then the link would again be sent to their followers and so on. One could also catch the worm by simply viewing the profile of an infected member.

As Mikko Hypphen of the F-Secure cybersecurity firm commented “It would have been a simple trick for malware authors to modify the worm to infect a user’s computer, where more serious offenses like identity theft could have occurred.” Now imagine that instead of just your external twitter account being linked to the network, technology that regulated your bodily functions was connected to the same network. It could be a disaster. Cyberspace has taken years of work and billions of dollars to construct. But in nature, it is often easier to tear something down than it is to build it. It seems that it might be inevitable that the body of the internet could be invaded by a super-virus that tears it down. Let’s just hope that we’re not a part of it when that day comes.

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