The internet's been blamed for everything from spreading bomb recipes to pushing porn onto school kids, but the latest claim, that it contributed to the sex murder of a woman in the US, sounds like an urban myth.
But as NewsRadio's Technology reporter Graham Cairns explains, it's all too real.
When Sharon Lopatka left her Maryland home, she left a note saying she would not be coming back, and that her husband should not seek vengeance.
Police believe she travelled to North Carolina, where she'd arranged to be sexually tortured and murdered by a man she'd never met, except via email.
Her body was later found in a shallow grave in the back yard of a home in the small town of Colletsville, the home of Robert Glass, who has been arrested for her murder.
The alleged killer, who used the net nicknames 'Slowhand' and 'Toyman' has denied his guilt, indicating Ms Lopatka's death was, in fact, an accident.
However, investigators say email messages from Glass, recovered from Lopatka's home computer, indicate that she travelled to North Carolina knowing what awaited her.
Mind you, they also showed other attempts by Ms Lopatka to arrange her own death, attempts that failed when her email net friends declined her request for snuff-sex.
The death of Sharon Lopatka has, of course, given more strength to the argument that the internet is a dark and dangerous place, populated by porn purveyors and perverts. Which is a real concern to those who people some of the seedier side-streets of the info superhighway.
There's been a lot of discussion of the Lopatka case in newsgroups like alt.sex.bondage, alt.torture, alt.sex.asphyxia and alt.sex.necrophilia. Posters in those groups are concerned about both the ramifications of the case, and the spotlight that it's cast over their activities.
These are discussion groups which deal with sexual preferences that many find almost incomprehensible: people who get their kicks by being strangled during orgasm, for example, or who fantasise about being slain during a sex act.
For most, of course, it is just that: fantasy. But for Sharon Lopatka, who used the net nickname LadyLynn and was a regular in the AOL and IRC Snuffsex channels, it may have been more.
Glass, when he was arrested, told investigators that Lopatka's death was accidental, that while he admitted tightening a rope around her neck during intercourse, he didn't mean to fatally suffocate her.
Under normal circumstances, that would be hard to explain, but other posters to the bdsm and necrophilia groups say Slowhand and LadyLynn eschewed the usual 'safe-word' concept (an unmistakable signal to stop) because it was 'wimpy'.
If there's been one positive side-effect to the death of Sharon Lopatka, its been the renewed discussion of such safety techniques.
In fact, those few regulars who have been willing to discuss the case with me (after I identified myself as a reporter) claim that one of the benefits of the newsgroups has always been dissemination of such safety information to 'newbies' to the scene.
According to one post, at least one life has been saved in the past year, ironically, with Glass playing a crucial role.
The poster says a suicidal 17 year old girl was seeking her own murder, prior to the Lopatka case, but was dissuaded by regulars including Glass.
There's some anger that such cases are being ignored by the media, along with the fact that the Lopatka case would have been given little or no coverage, if it hadn't involved the Internet.
But it _did_ involve the net, because Lopatka and Glass would probably never have met, if they hadn't arranged their meetings via email. And net-initiated meetings can be a two-edged sword.
Dr Alvin Cooper, a Californian sex-therapist, says the way that communications on the net work, they foster a sense of intimacy, security, and connection, even if those feelings are misplaced.
Add to that the 'sexual predators' that Dr Cooper claims frequent these sites and you have a recipe for disaster.
It should be stressed, of course, that the net was merely a conduit in this case.
As Fred Berlin, the founder of the John Hopkins Sexual Disorder Clinic told reporters, the internet 'merely provided a tragically convenient forum for Lopatka to meet someone looking to sexually abuse another person'.
In the wake of the case, there's been renewed discussion about the nature of internet-mediated meetings.
One poster pointed out that the net is like any other community, that there are brightly-lit boulevards and dark dangerous back alleys as well.
So long as you take precautions, she says, arranging meetings via the internet is no more dangerous than doing so in real life, and there are some added bonuses, too!
Consider the case of Kilroy, when I started researching this item, I contacted him via the soc.couples newsgroup, because he has some good advice about how to make net-initiated meetings safe.
How does he know so much about the issue? He's held a number of such meetings, including one where he met a woman we'll call Erranedhel.
At that meeting, Cupid added a high-tech string to his bow, and Kilroy and Erranedhel became part of a growing trend, on-line romances that bloom into real-life marriages.
Which, to an incurable romantic like me, seems as good a place as any to end this piece on the plusses and minuses of off-line meetings.