Today the NY Times released a piece describing a group called the, “intellectual dark web,” and it was horrible. The author, Bari Weiss framed the “IDW” as a bunch of renegades, cast into the dark corners of the internet solely for wanting to exercise their, “free speech rights.” The intellectuals claim in the piece that they just want to discuss controversial topics with “facts and logic” and are not being given the opportunity to in the main stream.
This could not be farther from the truth though. Not only are these “intellectual rebels” frequently on mainstream outlets like Fox News and HBO, but the “controversial topics” they seek to justify with their “facts and logic” are racial superiority, islamophobia and mysoginy. The ultimate goal of their content is to generate outrage, get clicks and profit, a tactic they are employing dangerously well.
“I’ve figured out how to monetize social justice warriors,” Mr. Jordan Peterson said in January on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Mr. Peterson says he pulls in some $80,000 in fan donations each month.
This dangerous strategy of “monetizing social justice warriors” outrage has started to cause real world violence. Last month for instance, it came to light Alexandre Bissonnette, who shot up a mosque in Quebec City and killed six muslims, intensely studied the content of Ben Shapiro, a leader of the IDW. Shapiro is most well known for using Pew research stats to justify his claim that there are “680 million radical muslims” worldwide.
“The myth of the radical muslim minority is just that, a myth,” Shapiro states. “And it’s a myth thats going to get a lot of civilized people killed.” He continues, “By the time the radical muslims come for anyone that doesn’t think like President Obama it will be too late.” Campaigns are being run to prove Shapiro incited the Quebec City shooter with his rhetoric, which he has combated by appearing on outlets like Fox News and allegedly commissioning smear pieces using his vast network of media connections. This is clearly a stark contrast to the “dark web underlord” picture painted by the NY Times.
Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter, has a quote that sums up how these IDW grifters are monetizing their content successfully on the internet, “The problem with the Internet is that it rewards extremes. Everyone stops to look at a car crash. The internet’s market of ideas and content subsequently takes this as a sign that people want more car crashes.”
Outrage gets clicks and clicks get you profit. If this dangerous trend of profiteering off of outrage continues there will surely be more killing inspired by the IDW like the one in Quebec City and the IDW will profit from them.