"Hey, buddy! Is your refrigerator running?"

In simpler days--before answering machines, voice mail, and Caller ID--the barely stifled giggle on the other end of the line was the tip off: You'd just picked up a prank phone call.

One might be angry or amused, but hardly anybody thought to slap a ban on telephones or limit their use by school-age children. The telephone was seen as a neutral medium. You could use the phone to call your dear old mother or to make a bomb threat.

When it comes to the internet, though, it's a...

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