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Shock site

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Content Warning!
The following work contains content and material that some may find shocking. Reader discretion is advised.

A shock site is a website that is designed to shock or disgust visitors with any piece of media. These websites often feature graphic violence, pornography, or other disturbing content that is intended to be offensive or disturbing.[1] Some shock sites are also designed to trick visitors into clicking on a link that takes them to a shocking or disturbing image or video. Shock sites can be difficult to navigate away from, as they may use pop-ups or other tactics to keep visitors on the site. Shock sites have been around since the early days of the internet, and some of the most well-known shock sites include websites like Rotten.com, Ogrish.com, and the now-defunct Goatse.cx. Some shock sites are intended to be humorous or satirical, while others are created with the intent to shock or traumatize visitors. Due to their graphic and disturbing content, they can be illegal in certain jurisdictions. While shock sites are generally regarded as controversial and offensive, they have nevertheless had an impact on internet culture and have been referenced in various forms of media. Some internet users may visit shock sites as a form of dark humor or as a way to push their boundaries, while others may find them disturbing or traumatizing. While shock sites are designed to be humorous or satirical, shock sites can also be used to spread malware or other harmful content.

Background

The bait-and-switch technique consists of misleading a person into clicking a link by telling them erroneous information.

Shock sites often used the so-called "bait-and-switch" technique to lure unsuspecting users into clicking a link by disguising the content of the page. In this case, the shock site may be disguised as a harmless or even desirable website, such as a music or video download site, or a news site, in order to entice users to click on the link. Once the user clicks on the link, they are typically redirected to a page that contains graphic, violent, or otherwise disturbing content, such as images or videos of gore, animal cruelty, or sexual acts. This sudden and unexpected exposure to shocking content is intended to elicit a strong emotional response, such as fear, disgust, or outrage. Some shock sites use additional tactics to intensify the shock value, such as pop-up windows or sudden loud noises. Others may employ false warnings or fake error messages in order to create a sense of urgency or danger, further heightening the user's emotional state.

Shock sites are widely considered to be unethical and harmful, and many countries have laws that prohibit the distribution of certain types of shocking or offensive content. As such, it is important for internet users to exercise caution when clicking on links or visiting unfamiliar websites, and to avoid sites that may contain potentially offensive or harmful content. Shock sites follow a formula that includes a bait-and-switch tactic. They often have a seemingly innocuous or enticing title or image to draw the viewer in, but then present shocking or disturbing content. This content can range from graphic violence and gore to sexual content and other taboo subjects. Shock sites are designed to shock and disgust the viewer, with the intent of eliciting a strong emotional reaction. Some shock sites also include sound effects or music to enhance the impact of the content. The formula of shock sites is deliberately designed to be provocative and disturbing, with the goal of creating a memorable experience for the viewer. The use of a bait-and-switch tactic is a key part of this formula, as it manipulates the viewer's expectations and then delivers content that is completely different from what they were expecting. The combination of shocking content and the element of surprise makes shock sites a controversial and often criticized part of internet culture.

History

Main Article: Screamer Wiki:Throughout the Years

Shock sites have been present on the internet since the mid-1990s when websites started to include more graphic and controversial content. Websites like Rotten.com and Stile Project gained notoriety in the late 1990s and early 2000s for their graphic content, including violence, gore, and pornography, and were described as "shock sites" due to their ability to shock and disgust viewers. One of the earliest shock sites was Rotten.com, founded in 1996, which featured graphic images of death, violence, and gore.[2][3] While shock content has been created since the early days of the internet, the term "shock site" was not coined until the early 2000s, when the rise of the internet and the emergence of Web 2.0 platforms created new opportunities for online shock content. The first known shock site was "Goatse" which emerged in the late 1990s and featured an image of a man stretching his anus with his hands, becoming infamous for its shocking content and giving its name to the entire genre of shock sites.[2] In the early 2000s, the internet saw the rise of shock sites, including "Lemonparty" and "Tubgirl" which were known for their bait-and-switch formula, revealing shocking or disgusting images after appearing innocuous. Other shock sites became popular for their use of graphic violence, gore, and disturbing imagery. As the internet evolved, shock sites became increasingly prevalent and extreme, with sites like Ogrish.com and Bestgore.com gaining large followings for their graphic and real-life images and videos of violence. Shock sites featuring sexually explicit content, such as The Mac User, Selfpwn.org, Meatspin,[4] became popular for their ability to shock and trick unsuspecting viewers. The mid-2000s saw shock sites gain mainstream attention through high-profile cases like the "Run the Gauntlet" challenge, which featured increasingly disturbing videos that users were challenged to watch in their entirety. Over time, shock sites continued to emerge, each attempting to push the envelope in terms of graphic and disturbing content. Infamous shock sites including now-defunct LiveLeak featuring real-life videos of violence and death.[5]

Shock sites were once a popular phenomenon on the internet. However, their popularity has declined in recent years due to increased regulation and moderation of online content,[2] as well as the rise of social media. Many shock sites have been shut down due to legal issues, while others have faded into obscurity as internet users have moved on to other forms of online entertainment. Despite their controversial and taboo nature, shock sites remain a part of internet history and continue to intrigue and disgust viewers. Shock sites are often associated with online communities such as 4chan, and have been the subject of memes and internet jokes. Nevertheless, they are widely considered socially unacceptable. Today, shock content can still be found on the internet, but it has been pushed to the fringes of the web. Although shock sites are no longer as popular as they once were, they have left a lasting impact on internet culture. They have been the focus of numerous articles, documentaries, and discussions, and continue to be referenced in online communities. Some shock sites have even become memes or been incorporated into other forms of digital art.

Reception and Impact

See Also: Screamers

Shock sites have had a significant impact on both internet culture and society as a whole, with complex and often polarizing effects. Critics of shock sites have pointed out that the graphic and disturbing content of these websites can have negative impacts on viewers. In particular, exposure to violent and sexually explicit material online has been linked to an increase in aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, and other harmful outcomes. Furthermore, some have argued that shock sites promote a culture of cruelty and desensitization, where people become numb to the suffering of others and are more likely to engage in violent or abusive behavior. However, others have argued that shock sites can have a positive role to play in pushing boundaries In particular, shock sites have been seen as a way to shock people out of their complacency and expose them to uncomfortable truths about the world. Some have even viewed shock sites as a form of artistic expression, with their graphic and disturbing content serving as a legitimate way of exploring taboo subjects. Despite the controversies surrounding them, shock sites have played a significant part in shaping internet culture since their emergence in the early 2000s. Shock sites have had an influence on memes, online humor, and other forms of digital content, with the graphic and disturbing images and videos featured on shock sites being repurposed and remixed in a variety of ways. As a result, shock sites have become a staple of internet humor and online culture more broadly.

The shock site and screamer phenomena were two distinct yet significant aspects of early internet culture, with different impacts on the digital landscape. Shock sites, featuring graphic and disturbing content, sparked controversy and criticism for their "potential harm" to viewers, and promotion of desensitization and cruelty. Despite these issues, shock sites influenced internet memes, humor, and digital content while raising questions about online safety and regulation. Screamer videos, a specific subcategory of shock sites, consisted of harmless content that suddenly switched to a startling image and screams, often used as a prank. While short-lived, screamer videos heavily influenced online humor and pranking culture. In terms of impact, shock sites were broader and more controversial, while screamer videos were more focused but influential in shaping online humor. Both phenomena prompted discussions about online content regulation and safety and continue to have a lasting impact on our approach to graphic and disturbing content online.

Legality

The legality of shock sites is a complex issue that varies depending on the specific content featured on the site and the laws of each country. Shock sites often feature content that is illegal in some jurisdictions, such as violent or sexually explicit images or videos. The owners of shock sites have faced legal repercussions in some cases. The legality of shock sites remains a contentious issue, with some arguing that they should be banned altogether due to their potentially harmful effects, while others argue that they are protected under free speech laws.[2] The availability of graphic and disturbing content online can be harmful to young people and vulnerable individuals. There have been calls for increased regulation and moderation of online content. The legal status of shock sites has been the subject of several high-profile cases, including the case of Mark Marek, owner of Bestgore.com,[1][6][7] and Chris Wilson, creator of the shock site "Now That's Fucked Up" (NTFU). Another shock site Kekma.net was also banned from several countries due to the content it displayed.

In popular culture

See Also: Reaction videos
A group of soldiers reacting to 2 Girls 1 Cup.

Shock sites have become less popular in recent years. However, they still exist on the fringes of the internet and their legacy lives on in popular culture. Shock site imagery has been referenced and parodied in various forms of media, including films, television shows, and music videos. Despite this, the widespread use and acceptance of trigger warnings in popular culture have made it more difficult for shock sites to gain the same level of attention and notoriety that they once had. One example of a shock site in popular culture is the fictional website "Bonsai Kitten," which gained notoriety in the early 2000s. The website claimed to offer a method for growing kittens in jars, with the goal of shaping them into unique and decorative forms. Although the site was revealed to be a hoax and no actual kittens were harmed, it sparked outrage from animal rights groups and the general public. Despite this, it became a cultural phenomenon and was referenced in various media including TV shows, music videos, and video games.

Another example is the "Lemon Party" meme, which features a photograph of three elderly men engaging in sexual acts. The photograph was taken from a gay pornographic website and was first circulated online in the early 2000s. It gained notoriety as an internet shock site and was often used to shock and disgust people. However, over time, the image became a popular meme in internet culture and was used for humorous purposes or to troll people. The Lemon Party meme has been referenced in popular media, such as "The Office" and the video game Saints Row IV Lemon Party was mentioned on a sketch on Talkshow with Spike Feresten, ArcherThe SimpsonsThe Cleveland Show and 30 Rock30 Rock made three allusions to "Lemon Party".

A shock site that gained notoriety in popular culture is "2 Girls 1 Cup," a viral video that depicts two women engaging in sexually explicit acts, including feces consumption. The video became a widespread internet meme in the late 2000s, with many people sharing reaction videos of themselves or others watching it. It has been referenced in various media and even inspired a South Park episode. This shock site also inspired the concept of what would become known as "reaction videos."[2]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 http://www.floridalawreview.com/wp-content/uploads/Farmand.pdf
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 How shock sites shaped the internet. VICE. (2023, February 27). Retrieved April 2, 2023, from https://www.vice.com/en/article/wxnw7b/shit-death-and-gore-how-shock-sites-shaped-the-internet
  3. Robertson, A. (2012, June 13). Snuff: Murder and torture on the internet, and the people who watch it. The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2012/6/13/3076557/snuff-murder-torture-internet-people-who-watch-it
  4. Bond, J.-M. (2021, March 17). Revisiting Meatspin, the NSFW site that shocked a generation. The Daily Dot. Retrieved April 2, 2023, from https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/meatspin-meme/
  5. Cole Stryker (2016, March 1). Murder, mayhem, and the evolution of liveleak. Newsweek. Retrieved April 2, 2023, from https://www.newsweek.com/2014/10/10/murder-mayhem-and-evolution-website-liveleak-273963.html
  6. Global News. (2013, February 22). Police charge Edmonton gore site owner in Magnotta video investigation. http://globalnews.ca/news/723495/police-charge-edmonton-gore-site-owner-in-magnotta-video-investigation/
  7. CBC News. (2016, January 25). Marek trial opens: Edmonton man charged with hate crime over racist website. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/marek-trial-opens-1.3416408

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References


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