You wouldn’t ever guess it, but…
I’m on the internet right now. Browsing Netnect.
It’s late at night and Karina’s passed out over by the couch; as tired as I am, somehow I’m the one who has managed to stay awake while doing some pretty vital research.
I don’t know what it was, but it had suddenly hit me–
The Social Media Killer has to be a high schooler.
That hoodie-wearing person I saw at the movie shoot, who I’m convinced was the culprit, was someone small, small enough that they couldn’t have been some middle aged geezer. I mean, that proves nothing solid, but my hunch is strong. And maybe that’s all I need.
We’ve ruled out a crack team of pro hackers. We’ve ruled out a rogue AI. There’s no pattern, no concrete reason for each person chosen to be “killed”– except one.
Each person targeted by the Social Media Killer has committed a wrong. It’s all at varying levels, but you could say each of them has “wronged the city” in a certain way. Each of them has negatively impacted the well-being of the city, either by cheating on a spouse or embezzling money or being rude to customers.
The Social Media Killer is an activist. And a sentimental one at that.
Whoever they are, they have made it their goal to bring about change to Atlanta, out of a view that the city’s course has run in the wrong direction. Someone like that can’t be someone older, who has experienced the time before Atlanta gained prominence in the world stage, and knows how different the world has really become. It could be some early-twenties disgruntled university dropout, sure, but there’s one big thing that has gotten my mind set on this:
Outside anything else, what other kind of person would target teenagers to begin with? An activist who nearing thirty or well into middle-age would be exclusively focused on the important targets, not the students going through a tough time in their lives. Sure, there’s some awful bullies who have gotten their comeuppance thanks to the Social Media Killer, but honestly, who the heck else would care?
I’m sure R8PR, or the data researchers in the police and any other organization currently trying to hunt them down, would overlook this sort of notion out of the assumption that the low-profile, low-importance targets are noise intentionally set to throw pursuers off their trail. Now that I think about that, that’s just silly. I guess I’m still young enough to remember my high school and A-levels days where those guys probably can’t, but that whole era of your life is super overdramatic and filled with the sorts of declarations of justice and love and fate that you realize were completely wrong a couple years after the fact. Doesn’t it make perfect sense that some teenager would be trying to fundamentally change the city of Atlanta out of a sense of misplaced anger?
The biggest question now would be, what kind of teenager would actually be able to pull off such incredible feats? With this in mind, I’m doing a little bit of research into some of the victims who might help me narrow the search a little bit. The data R8PR provided me is really good; he seems to have actually put in the effort to help a human sift through all of it, even if he didn’t have to.
I did send an e-mail to one of his many online addresses explaining this theory, but he hasn’t responded yet. I know he doesn’t sleep considering he’s a robot with a power supply that can give him a month’s energy on one charge, so I have no idea why he wouldn’t reply except he’s preoccupied.
While I can’t figure out how to do the cool data visualization stuff that he can conjure up at a moment’s notice, I can still use a trusty pen and paper to chart this all out. It’s really old-school right now.
I’m going to trust my intuition here and eliminate anyone in southwestern Atlanta from the analysis, just because it’s pretty sparse as-is. Whoever this is didn’t seem to have too much access to people on the poorer end of the spectrum. This goes for any neighborhoods or districts far in the south, closer to the airport or Macon, where there didn’t appear to be many hacking attacks anyway.
So this leads me to assume these two things:
- The Social Media Killer is from a high-income household with plenty of access to education (which is how they learned how to pull off these feats).
- With enough effort, I should be able to trace back most of the teenager and young adult victims and find a common geographic link, probably a school.
And the second of these is what I’ve been doing all night.
There’s been almost a hundred people under the age of twenty who have been hacked by the Social Media Killer, so… it’s been a pretty draining few hours. Basically every single one of them does NOT have a Netnect account; their accounts were generally locked with a changed password and associated e-mail after the Social Media Killer accessed them, and Netnect has taken down any posts verified to have come from them. But R8PR’s data still contains quite a bit of information on each of them.
What I’ve found?
At least half of them so far have at some point in their lives gone to school in Cobb County, the well-off rich area in northern Atlanta.
And you know what else? That MARTA crash last year was a train headed northbound out of the subway tunnels and towards Marietta, Cobb County’s financial center.
Evidence on evidence.
It’s all sorts of different schools that these students went to within Cobb County, but there’s one that has gotten me particularly interested–
Two of the first five victims “killed” by the hacker both came from one school, Middlebridge High School and College. Philip Rogers, a tenth grader who, according to the Social Media Killer’s post, bullied those around him for years and cheated on his most recent girlfriend, who is unnamed. The other is Courtney Trudeau, who was another bully who harrassed another unnamed girl in an online chatlog.
It’s unfortunate that they had to be involved, but if I could figure out the identity of the people harmed in these, I think I just might be able to narrow it down…
But that’s the hard part. As a plain old human with no special mind powers (just these boring old physical enhancements) I don’t have the ability to sift through a hundred web pages every five minutes and then make inferences about not only the information there, but the information NOT there.
The Social Media Killer is apparently someone who has little-to-no social network presence, at least from what the people who hired the thugs think. If that’s the case, then I’m not sure how to connect anyone if I can’t find out who they are.
I could take Karina with me to sneak around this high school in Cobb County to find out information, but that seems like a gigantic waste of time. They might not even be a student there.
Oh, Karina. I’m so glad I had that eureka moment when I did. She and I… I couldn’t do that to her. I haven’t told her about leaving Atlanta and if I told her AFTER that, she’d never forgive me.
She might not forgive me regardless.
With all the work it’s taking just to keep Atlanta from imploding…
I can’t believe myself.
I don’t like Karina like that anyway. I just got caught up in the heat of the moment.
So I’m just going to stick to my plans. We’re going to do a lot of fun stuff together, and then I’m going to move to Tallahassee and pick up a job mowing lawns or something. She’ll be mad, but she’ll forgive me, and I’ll come up to see her a few times a year, and then we’ll slowly drift apart as she becomes lead designer on a new automated factory or something and marries someone really attractive but not all that smart who will raise their four beautiful children, and by the time I realize it’s already been five years since the last time I saw her, she’s become CEO of Sakaguchi Automations and has forgotten about me completely other than a stepping-stone on her pathway to success, honoring me only by designating her personal butler robot M0RG.
That might not be how it plays out. Karina may be one half of a mechanical engineering major, but she doesn’t like it very much. She’ll probably be a classical pianist and tour the country, just like all my friends apparently end up doing. See, I’m leaving and so will she.
I’m… I’m going to stop now.
This really is enough introspection for now; I’ll save the rest for after I discover the identity of the Social Media Killer and keep the city from being annihilated in the chaos.
Let’s just hope R8PR has done some research of his own.