“I am delighted to offer my highest praise to Dean Cocking and Jeroen van den Hoven’s brilliant new book, Evil Online.”

Phil Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Stanford University Principal Investigator, Stanford Prison Experiment.

“This volume explains with great insight and clarity the corrupting nature of the internet and the moral confusion it has produced. Evil Online is an excellent book.”

Roger Crisp, Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Oxford.

I came up with the title Evil Online in a dream nearly 12 years ago. I had been thinking and writing on two projects-one about intimacy online and the other about evil intentions. I had not thought of the projects as related. The dream mixed them together and produced the original idea-to catalogue and analyse a variety of evils online.

In ‘those days’ just about everything to do with online technology was thought of as fantastic. The idea that we might be running amok and going astray in some general and fundamental ways was new. I told my friend and colleague Jeroen van den Hoven about the idea and we soon had written up a proposal and had a book contract. Much water has gone under the bridge since then, with the emerging online social revolution having the most influence in re-shaping our focus. In particular, we have been led to focus less on the running amok of the bad and mad, and more on the ‘fall’ of otherwise fairly normal, pro-social people.

As a result, we have developed a fresh account of evildoing and we show how various forms of moral confusion have turned otherwise ordinary, pro-social people toward evil. We illustrate how values basic to the pro-social life, such as autonomy, intimacy and privacy, are undermined by online platforms and new technologies, and how problems of evil have exploded online in both degree and kind.

Evil Online presents a new theory of human evil ‘The Moral Fog‘ and aims to shed light on long-standing debates concerning how we might understand the forces that shape moral character and our capacities for evil.

The book is out now.

Full Endorsements

The confrontation between good and evil occupies a central place in the challenges facing our human nature. Religious Christians pray daily in the Lord’s Prayer for God to deliver them from evil and also to enable them to resist the temptation to do evil. Human Evil is the perversion of personal or systemic power to harm, hurt, and destroy others who are perceived as different or dangerous or simply weaker.

My focus for many decades has been the investigation of how good people can be seduced to do evil deeds, as demonstrated in my Stanford Prison Experiment. Recently, I have been sounding an alarm about the dangers facing young men of becoming addicted to online video games and online pornography.

I am delighted to offer my highest praise to Dean Cocking and Jeroen van den Hoven’s brilliant new book, Evil Online. This new creative investigation into the spread of evil by means of all-powerful new technologies raises fundamental questions about our morality and values. Cocking and van den Hoven’s account of the moral fog of evil forces us to face both the demons within each of us as well as the demons all around us. In the end, we are all enriched by their perceptively rich analyses.”

Phil Zimbardo

“The internet offers new and deeply concerning opportunities for immorality, much of it shocking and extreme. This volume explains with great insight and clarity the corrupting nature of the internet and the moral confusion it has produced. Evil Online is an excellent book and will play a vital role in the growing debate about how to balance the benefits of the internet against the risks it poses to all of us.”

Roger Crisp