If Stanley Milgram And Phillip Zimbardo Hadn’t Gone Into Psychology…

They might have gotten involved in Pranknet, the subjects of an article at the Smoking Gun.  These trolls call various places, especially hotels, and manipulate the people on the other end into destroying property or humiliating themselves.  In a few cases they tricked their targets into stripping naked in public, and even drinking a strangers’ urine in another.  Despite its similar style, Pranknet was not behind the strip search prank call scam.

The Smoking Gun has responded by revealing the real identities of a lot of the individuals involved.  The ringleader is Tariq Malik, who they visited at his parents’ house, but he turned out to be afraid of talking to the reporters, or at least going outside in the sunlight.  Shawn Powell is another member of the group and a registered sex offender–the smoking gun claims he’s not even the worst of them, but I’m unconvinced.

I’m not sure the traditional explanation of outing is applicable here, since you can’t expect these guys to feel much shame.  But so far as it punctures their sense that they’re invincible thanks to the anonymity of the internet, exposing them can’t help but do good.

I’ll leave you with an anecdote.  One day a professor of mine started class by telling us that “One very hard question in the social sciences, one that provokes a huge amount of disagreement is ‘why are men such jerks?’ ”


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