From time travelling soldiers making contact to perplexing recruitment methods looking for the smartest people on earth – join us as we investigate the 5 greatest mysteries of the Internet.
Several years ago a mysterious Youtube channel named Web Driver Torso ripped through the Internet causing much speculation. The account posts mainly 11-second videos that consist of blue and red patterns that appear randomly across the screen. To date there have been more 370,000 videos added to the account, all bizarre, making little to no sense.
The Internet went crazy, with many speculating that the account was used by spies as some kind of communication. Others thought it was aliens! Months went by as people tried deciphering the bizarre patterns until Google put an end to the madness, announcing that it’s a test account used to assess video quality. However, not before spectacularly Rick Rolling the entire Internet with a statement that mimicked Rick Astley’s famous lyrics as well as uploading this footage to the account:
With the power of hindsight this one is no longer that mysterious but it is fascinating. In the year 2000 a man going by the name John Titor started posting in-depth discussions in a number of forums claiming he was a time traveller from the year 2036. He said he was an American soldier sent back to 1975 to retrieve an IBM 5100 to debug some legacy coding from his current time period. It was later revealed by IBM engineer Bob Dubke that the 5100 model can actually emulate and debug mainframe systems, a feature that was little known by the public at that time.
Titor claimed to be making a stopover in the year 2000 to meet some old friends and to warn as many people as he could about an impending civil war. He posted schematics for a time travel device and made some outlandish predictions about world war 3 breaking out in 2015, all the while making his claims unfalsifiable but stating that he was from an alternate universe so that history may not pan out the way said it will – how convenient!
This one is current and very mysterious. It’s a series of perplexing codes that began appearing on Reddit in 2011. No one knows for certain what it all means, but it has been fertile ground for over the top conspiracy theories. Some believe it’s a number station broadcasting messages to spies around the world. Others claim it’s a private security firm looking to recruit talented cryptologists. And of course, some think it’s aliens. Many believe A858 is a bot because of the pin-point accuracy of the postings. The posts are typically in hexadecimal form which means they range from 0-9/A-F.
During a Reddit AMA with W95 who was later confirmed through the A858 account, it was revealed that the initiative is part of a larger organisation, claiming they are the ‘good guys’, not part of any terrorist organisation. They’ve confirmed they are not Google, Apple or Microsoft. But that’s where the solid info ends. No one has been able to solve this mystery or give it any semblance of meaning. There is an entire subreddit of nearly 10,000 people dedicated to unlocking the enigma of A858.
Markovian Parallax Denigrate
This is one of the oldest and most intriguing Internet mysteries. Back in 1996, users of Usenet, which was a non-centralised, sort of crude form of the Internet, began getting bombarded by bizarre, nonsensical walls of text. Hundreds of these messages flooded Usenet discussion groups, sparking intense discussion about their possible meaning and origin. Many conspiracy theories began, citing that the messages could be CIA spies sending cryptic secrets. Some of Usenet’s brightest minds tried cracking the gibberish text to no avail. With little more to run on the discussions soon died down, until in 2006 when some keen eyed bloggers revealed from Google’s public archive of Usenet that a striking email address was attached to the only post that remained of the Markovian Parallax Denigrate. It belonged to one: Susan Lindauer – a self-proclaimed CIA asset, that was arrested in 2004 after allegedly serving as an agent of Saddam Hussein’s government.
Once again, conspiracy theories flooded the Internet but now they had some tangible credibility to them. What was the Markovian Parallax Denigrate?
A quick Google of Susan Lindauer reveals that she does have a fascinating past. Nick named,‘Snowflake’, she grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. Her classmates remember her as highly intelligent with a wild side. An early journalism career saw her develop into a political spokesperson, with a string of roles with high up politicians. Her mental health became a problem in her career, with colleagues raising concerns over her erratic behaviour and mood swings.
Lindauer claims to have identified dozens of terrorist bombings before they happened as well as a number of assassination attempts on world leaders. She also allegedly warned her brother and a close friend to stay away from New York before 9/11 occurred.
Then in 2012, a reporter from DailyDot.com revealed that a second lady named Susan Lindauer was actually the owner of the email address attached to cryptic messages however denied any knowledge of the Markovian Parallax Denigrate. This sparked further theories that the Lindauer email address was used to make political reporter Susan Lindauer look delusional – possibly a scapegoat – for a far greater cover up.
This is all conjecture however, created by perplexed web communities determined to unravel the Markovian Parallax Denigrate mystery. The most likely theory is that the garbled messages that spammed Usenet nearly 20 years ago were the work of the Internet’s earliest trolls.
On a scale of one to mysterious this next one is a noggin scratcher. Cicada 3301 is an enigmatic organisation that appears to be deeply embedded in our society with no listed public information, no leaders or no obvious agenda. For the last few years they have been posting perplexing puzzles across the Internet in an effort to find ‘highly intelligent individuals’. The puzzles are heavily focused on cryptology, data-security and steganography with elements of fine art and poetry scattered throughout.
A cryptosecurity researcher named Joel Eriksson is one of the few known people to have solved the first wave of puzzles back in 2012. The epic adventure saw him deciphering images to extract hidden URLs, sifting through ancient Mayan numerology and solving riddles to get a phone number in Texas that played a voice recording leading to the next clue. There was even GPS coordinates pointing to physical locations around the world, revealing posters plastered on walls that required QR scanners to get the next crumb of the puzzle. However, when Eriksson reached the final puzzle deep in the dark web a message was listed by Cicada 3301 saying that they were disappointed that groups of people had formed to solve the puzzles instead of acting as individuals, as Eriksson had done. Had Eriksson been a little quicker he would know what lies just beyond the final gate.
To this day, no one knows what it’s all about. Some claim it’s a recruitment tool for the CIA or NSA. Other’s claim is a rogue group of international hackers bent on anarchy and of course some think it’s aliens making contact. Whatever the group’s intentions are, the puzzles have gone down as one of the greatest internet mysteries of all time.