Secret societies are as old as humanity, and they sure as hell aren’t going away any time soon. But in an internet age where privacy is harder than ever to come by, secret societies face all kinds of new challenges. And Matt King has seen some of their newest tricks first hand.
Writing in The Atlantic, King shares some of the interesting specifics of how he was approached by New York University’s Eucleian Society. First through Facebook messages from a dead man, then pseudonymous email accounts, bizarre anonymous groupchats, Google Forms questionnaires, and seldom-seen Blogspot sites.
King explains the second stage of his recruitment, an email which indexed a bevy of ostensibly secret information, scattered and hidden through obscurity on the public internet:
A mass email was sent to recruits’ NYU accounts, which we had provided in the questionnaire. The sender’s alias was “John S. / Odysseus” and he introduced himself as a senior member of the society and head of its recruitment efforts. He told us the process couldn’t begin until we chose a nom de plume for ourselves and created a corresponding Gmail account to be used exclusively for all society-related communication.
His email included a list of links to over a dozen Blogspot pages, YouTube videos, and Google Groups, all of which he told us to read through and absorb “ASAP.” He also sent us a Google Calendar invite to join a weekly online group chat, the first of which would focus on discussing this trove of information.
None of these methods are especially arcane, but it’s fascinating to consider how these clandestine societies are now hiding their most valuable secrets not only in plain sight, but through Google — a service designed specifically to help things be found. So who else wants to go start a secret club on a blog with a URL that’s just 20 characters of gibberish?