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Since the invention of the internet, movies have tried to explain the concepts of hacking, networks, and websites with little success. A few films have gotten it right, but a whole lot of films have gotten it very wrong, most of which came out in the 1990s. From cyberbullying to ghostly websites, here are 7 movies that got the internet completely wrong.
Swordfish – According to Swordfish, hacking is easy. All Hugh Jackman has to do is type really fast and arrange a series of shapes and lines while enjoying a glass of red wine. Swordfish did make money at the box office despite getting panned by critics, but ticket sales had much more to do with topless Halle Berry than any accuracy about internet hackers.
Cyberbully – Cyberbully, ABC Family’s well-meaning made-for-TV movie, is about a teenage girl getting attacked on a Facebook stand-in called Cliquester. Besides the ridiculous over-acting and melodramatic soundtrack, the plot ignores the reality of website moderators and tools that allow users to report hate speech or harassment.
The Net – Sandra Bullock’s 1995 cyber-thriller imagined a world where everything is on computers. Medical records, DMV, the FBI, pizza delivery, and the New York Stock Exchange are all accessible online, and all a person needs to manipulate all of it is a program called “Gatekeeper.” This is also a future where a politician would commit suicide over an HIV diagnosis, so clearly this dystopian future never came to pass.
Untraceable – In Untraceable, Diane Lane is investigating a killer who is live-streaming his victims dying online, and the more people who visit the website, the quicker the victim dies. Somehow, the site is completely untraceable, and the killer is unstoppable, even hacking into Lane’s car and shutting it down.
Finding Faith – Finding Faith is more of an abduction story than a tech thriller. The title character Faith is a teenage girl who accepts a friend request on a Facebook-like site from someone she doesn’t know, and she gets kidnapped by human traffickers. The moral of the story should be to never accept a friend request or give out personal information to a stranger online, but the movie is more interested in scaring parents and teenagers off of social media altogether.
Hackers – Hacking in 1995’s Hackers is akin to a drug trip with quick-cutting montages. It is never really clear what Jonny Lee Miller, a.k.a. Zero Cool, is doing, but whatever it is, he is typing really, really slowly.
Fear Dot Com – Like Untraceable, Fear Dot Com is about a killer website. Unlike Untraceable, the perpetrator isn’t an impossibly clever computer genius but a ghost, which actually makes more sense. The killer website in Fear Dot Com drives its visitors crazy with visions and hallucinations, and within 48 hours of visiting the site, all of its visitors are dead. Is it the most outlandish concept on the list? Maybe, but it definitely has some strong competition.