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Showtime’s ‘Dark Net’ Probes Privacy Concerns, Social Media’s ‘Subconscious’

Variety logo Variety 4/6/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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Showtime’s “Dark Net” unveils its second season tonight just as the issues the series probes are generating headlines.

The docu-series produced by Vocativ Films probes the shadowy areas of the Internet, the estimated 80% of content that doesn’t show up on Google and other search engines.

The controversy over the U.S. House of Representatives’ vote last week to roll back Obama-era Internet privacy regulations has sparked new concerns that consumers have few protections online for sensitive personal information. At the same time, the public has shown a surprisingly willingness to favor the convenience of having smartphone access to bank accounts and such over security concerns.

“We are the last generation that is going to have any expectation of privacy online,” said Mati Kochavi, founder of Vocativ and an exec producer of “Dark Net.” “People don’t understand how dangerous and difficult this is.”

Vocativ uses what it bills as “intelligent technology” to search for trends and patterns in the vast expansive of the online universe. The second season is largely focused on how connected devices and artificial intelligence-enabled devices are changing lives even in the off-line world. The half-hour show presents three stories per episode, all drawn from material that Vocativ’s research team digs up. Among the topics are men who are turning life-size AI-equipped dolls into companions and a woman who developed an algorithm to produce a steady stream of content to remind her of her late husband.

“Social media and the deep Internet is in a way subconscious of the world,” Kochavi said. “The stories we are showing today are things people wouldn’t talk about two years ago.”

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