Fortune Features Excerpt of “OUR BIGGEST FIGHT”

Mar 12 Fortune Frank h. mccourt, jr. & Michael Casey

Billionaire Frank McCourt says the surgeon general is only half right about the social-media mental health crisis. It’s a crisis of personhood, not privacy.

Take the story of Walker Farriel Montgomery, a 16-year-old from Starkville, Mississippi, who loved fishing, hunting, and football. On the evening of December 1, 2022, Walker was up late, on his phone, scrolling through Instagram when a pretty girl who seemed to share some of the same contacts appeared in his message feed. She reached out to him, flattering him and enticing him with talk about football. One thing led to another and, when they opened up a video chat, she exposed herself and invited him to do the same. But the minute after he obliged her request that he perform and share a recording of a graphic act, the girl disappeared and a stranger entered the chat. The girl’s image, manipulated from footage of a porn star, had been a front for a sextortion scam. The scammer demanded that Walker pay him $1,000 and threatened that if he didn’t comply, he would send the recording to all of Walker’s contacts. 

Read the full excerpt on Fortune here.

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