|Someone is wrong on|
|Gather 'round the campfire|
The term deep web is a neologism often used to refer to the dark web; the Tor darknet for example. Used in its original sense it refers to any web content inaccessible via traditional search engine. Linguists report that 'deep web' now often appears in place of or in combination with 'dark web', and is quickly taking on a life of its own. In popular usage, both terms are fairly nebulous; technology companies, sociologists, journalists and Wikipedians have made many an attempt to tease apart their overlapping and often confusing definitions, taken both individually and in relation to one another. In spite of this, mainstream comprehension remains relatively low. Public exposure to the "deep/dark web" remains largely limited to sensationalist reporting, covering, for example, red rooms and snuff films. Unfounded myth and legend continue to seep into popular culture as well.
- 1 Evolution of the term
- 2 Dark web influences
- 3 Deep web "levels"
- 4 Other myths
- 5 Useful infographics
- 6 Other (mis)info–graphics
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 External links
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
Evolution of the term
2001 — Search indexing origins
The term "deep web" first appeared in a 2001 paper by Michael Bergman, and describes Internet webpages not indexed by normal search engines. Bergman found inspiration to partition the web into a "deep web" and a "surface web" via analogy with fishing. We're sure he's glad to hear how his work is being interpreted today.
At the time, the web was quickly growing; its size therefore became a major focus to researchers (the paper Sizing the Internet, for example), Bergman, and consumers. To illustrate just how large the web was becoming, Bergman used the search engine North Light to search for the term "web". The search returned over 47 million hits. More discriminatory search engines, such as Google, were in order, simply for the fact that users desired and often needed highly filtered search results.
Although revolutionary, Google's crawler algorithm has the tendency to overlook certain websites. Sites with a small page count, and those which in earlier times never abused one of PageRank's laughably easy exploits, often lacked references and were therefore missed. Bergman categorized these sites as part of the deep web.
If it weren't for the web's massive size, the deep web as Bergman defined it wouldn't exist; in a smaller world with a much smaller web, the undiscriminating algorithms of early search engines could presumably prove sufficient.
2009 — Guardian article by Andy Beckett
In 2009, journalist Andy Beckett conflated the deep web and the Freenet darknet in an article in the Guardian, dooming the terms to indefinite confusion (thanks, Andy!). In the article, Beckett paints Freenet/darknet as a shadowy netherworld replete with thugs-for-hire, black-hat hackers, child pornographers/pedophiles, cops posing as pedophiles, double agent pedophiles posing as cops posing as pedophiles, and so on, all the way down.[citation NOT needed] The article's subtitle is rather less than neutral:
“”In the 'deep web', Freenet software allows users complete anonymity as they share viruses, criminal contacts and child pornography
Beckett is right, of course, in that Freenet allows for criminal behavior. Freenet connections are by nature peer-to-peer and encrypted, and it is difficult for packet-snoopers to tell whether given web traffic is Freenet traffic. This is a formidable measure to protect private communication, however. Many argue that privacy is a basic human right. Freenet's founder, Ian Clarke, acknowledges that Freenet is a tool placed at the disposal of its users, and contends that in light of the values of personal freedom and privacy (especially given the erosion of these values in recent years), misuse of a neutral tool should not condemn the tool itself. The Tor Project, a platform that offers users relative anonymity on the web via a distributed proxy network, shares similar values.
2013 — Silk Road and popularization
By 2013, with the shutdown of the Silk Road having gained widespread attention on the news worldwide, the terms 'deep web' and 'darknet' had become even more difficult to extricate from one another. The Silk Road fiasco also served to perpetuate the myth that the deep web was an exclusive venue of sorts for illegal goods and services. Of course, but the clearnet hosts a considerable amount of illegal activity as well:
“”And besides, the normal Internet already hosts loads of child porn, and is where human trafficking definitely takes place. [...] As long as people are obsessed with finding the next terrible thing on the dark web, these scam and troll sites are going to continue—feeding the exaggerated myth of what ultimately boils down to just a small collection of websites.
So long as the media continues to cover darknet market busts and other criminal activity on the dark web in sensationalist fashion, this misunderstanding is likely to live on.
While it is true that certain websites remain unindexed by search engines, information regarding their content continues to be highly misleading. Infographics like the example this article contends with circulate widely; they and other falsifications purport to reveal a shadowy hierarchy of disturbing content, relying on the the abuse of familiar terms in an unfamiliar context to convince the layperson. Opportunistic YouTubers like Takedownman and SomeOrdinaryGamers are happy to peddle unsubstantiated rumor on the subject as fact, and subscribers frequently ask how can they 'go deeper'. All of this works to perpetuate gross misunderstandings of the deep web, a concomitant many of which form an unsightly chimera of hidden knowledge, criminal activity, and intrigue.
Thanks to cursory, hasty examinations in the media and naturally blossoming myths and legends, popular understanding of "deep web", "dark web", and similar terms remains very poor. From a technical perspective, the term 'deep web' itself misrepresents the darknet's nature; sensationalist reporters and self-fashioned “deep web explorers” often appear to misunderstand much of the darknet's enabling technology, like Tor, Tails, Freenet, and Bitcoin. Misrepresentations of content are also widespread. Sensationalist reporting often covers the likes of red rooms and snuff films, and the media tends to overlook most of the illegal activity that does take place there. Pornography, counterfeiting, and drug markets are particularly common.
Dark web influences
There are a number of unique patterns associated with the Tor dark web, many of which are already the stuff of legend as they are so poorly understood and sensationalised in the media.[please explain]
Journalism sites such as Wikileaks and the Intercept claim to offer secure communications services, which supposedly provides whistle blowers with complete deniability. the Cthulhu has distributed torrent and magnet links intended to provide points of distribution. Convicted felon Matt DeHart claims to have received leaked FBI files via a Tor drop site in 2010 and that he was framed to pave the way for a CIA false flag attack. The popular GlobaLeaks software is often used to solicit tips but reporting has given some people[Who?] the idea that one can also find information from these channels.
Doxing site Doxbin which ran from the early days of Tor until May 2015 was a small but notorious site for posting personal information, for the sole intent of harassment. According to Doxbin's proscription list page:
“”This [Doxbin] is a list of various people who can be tormented at your leisure. If you're bored and feel like terrorizing some random person whose dox are on the site, this is a good place to start. Normally, I try to remain neutral to a fault, but these people have just proved bothersome for one reason or another. I really don't care how hard you go on any of them.
Whilst the original is defunct, a mirror exists in addition to less established brands. Doxing sites are often associated with image board and Anonymous culture such as 8chan and Encyclopædia Dramatica.
Revenge porn sites where leaked intimate pictures are often deliberately mixed with personally identifiable information have maintained a small presence, in part due to new government legislation and crack downs against such sites operating on the clearnet. One notable example of revenge porn was Pink Meth. Unsurprisingly, people weren't too happy with the website including Operation Onymous, who took down 400 mirrors (overkill much?) and eventually the FBI, which took the site down, though a mirror exists.
Porn and gore
The clearnet has porn, why not the deep web? The deep web ranges from "normie" porn to other things such as crush porn that sadists find sexual. The more well known example of porn on the deep web is child pornography, a topic which speaks for itself. Fetish sites are not unique to the darkweb, notable clearnet websites are Bestgore and gurochan; the latter has a deep web mirror.
Pedophile rings are written in media articles and do actually exist. The Uncensored Hidden Wiki has very extensive documentation on pedophilia forums, chats, and even an extremely extensive article titled "History of CP" that dates back to as far as 1857. A large majority of pedophilia sites consist of a lot pervs sharing porn (we stress a lot), however, there is also a community titled "Pedo Support Community 5.1" that bans child porn. Despite this, misreporting still exists:
- Business Insider reports on a crowdfunding website (titled Pedo Funding, the article censors the name out in the screenshot) claiming that "paedophiles are turning to a new crowdfunding site"; however, the website was extremely unsuccessful due to being labeled as a scam, as revealed by the admin once the site was shut down.
- Multiple sites claimed that Silk Road allowed the selling and buying of slaves (including children). Currently, no evidence that a slave trade on the onionland and hidden services even exists.
- Many websites assume that privacy networks are a paradise for pedophiles; however, many onions exist to suppress pedophiles, for example pedorabox.[better source needed]
- Cracked has an article by an individual that infiltrates pedophilia websites.
- "In The Dark Web, You'll Find A Whole Pedophile 'Community'"
- Many exist as documented by The Uncensored Hidden Wiki
- "There Are Two Opposing 'Camps' Of Child Molester"
- Those who do not want to victimize children and a shitton who really do.
- "Child Molesters Have A Handbook"
- A hidden service exists that gives pedophiles a downloadable guide on how to exploit children.
- "In The Dark Web, You'll Find A Whole Pedophile 'Community'"
The well known presence of criminal hacker communities is both feared and respected.[please explain] However it is possibly the association with the iCloud leaks of celebrity photos aka 'The Fappening' which caught many people's[Who?] attention. Suggestions that illicitly acquiring such images may have been done in systemic groups, based on trading suggests parallels with the structure of the market for child pornography.
Higher-end hacker communities have found a home on the dark web, such as Hell, Dark0de and other Russian-language sites. Gated communities such as XDedic sell access to pre-compromised servers around the world, and many others lease botnets to execute a range of nefarious services. Still, these are not the type of information sought out by intrepid dark web explorers.[please explain]
Darknet markets such as pioneered by the Silk Road and successors are such a significant part of the bitcoin and dark web economy that crypto currencies often play a part in mythos. Nonetheless, the nature of the feedback and escrow systems operated by the marketplaces and extended ecosystems means that onionland markets are — at a large extent — community regulated.[note 1] Because of this, the onionland markets are focused on reputation, something that must be maintained delicately over an extended period of time. This results in a good willed community — upset druggies without their drugs are very vocal after all[citation NOT needed] — though there's always that one asshole out there that will send you sand instead of cookies.
Even with regulation, onionland's markets are not a hundred percent safe, although scam sites have distinct red flags that are relatively easy to spot: lack any sort of reviews; have duplicate listings across different sites; and have the same UI. On the topic of being critical of onionland markets, numerous sales of PayPal accounts exist; however, cashing out of these accounts prove to be extremely difficult, making the investment questionable[better source needed] — besides, if it was easy to cash out, why would anyone sell it in the first place?
Law enforcement operations
Many notorious operations from international law enforcement agencies have been deployed against the worst of the worst of the dark web. These include
- The FBI used a Firefox exploit once it had Freedom Hosting under its control. Documentation on how the exploit was performed is publicly available.
- The FBI took control of Playpen for a short period and refused to release how it got the pedophiles' IP addresses. Due to its refusal, it can be assumed that its methods are unauthorized. As seen from the
HackedHacking Team's slides[note 2] and PRISM, the American law enforcement is no stranger to overstepping its boundaries.
- Operation Onymous, an FBI operation that took down Silk Road 2.0 but far less than claimed.
The Pirate Bay is an FBI Honeypot
- Generic undercover cop
Bad web design
Websites on the deep web take rudimentary design to a whole new level of awful and pointless. Saying that these websites are a result of brain farts is an understatement, brain vomits does better justice. Aside from the drug and illegal influences, browsing hidden service feels like browsing through GeoCities, slowdown included! Numerous sites contain amateur design and a single page.
Deep web "levels"
In 2011 or early 2012, an infographic was created at the time Tor and the Silk Road first gained popularity and crucially at the same time the deep web search term started to be conflated with the dark web. The concept of such 'levels' of the deep web was produced by an enterprising individual, sharing similarities with Dante's Inferno in its structure. In this (mis)infographic, the further down, the more insane and preposterous the content becomes. A January 2012 attempt at a corresponding corrected info graphic was also created, but never gained comparable popularity due to reliance of text and facts.
The infographic also perpetuates the fallacy that non-clearnet content somehow makes most of the Internet. As of September 14th, 2016, harry71's onion crawler has archived a whopping total of over 6,000 onion websites. That's a pretty small number compared to estimate of "at least 4.7 billion pages" as of September 14th, 2016. But in reality, if such a dark web were to exist, it would contain a rather small community to begin with, considering its supposed "Polymeric Falcoghol Derivation" barriers. Therefore, the darknet would be very small in size of pages to coincide with the size of the audience; definitely not more than 80% of the Internet (the method by which this figure was developed is a trade secret).
Level 0 Web — Common web
Level 1 Web — Surface web
Level 2 Web — Bergie web
|So that damned iceberg is still in the graphic, so I guess we'll name this level after it. For some reason FTP servers are placed below MySQL databases. Of course, the more edgy content like 4chan and Jailbait is listed. Made up terms like 'Google Locked Results' (whatever that's supposed to be), a pirate streaming service 'Let me Watch This' are placed next to honeypots. But surely if a honeypot was on a deeper level than normal, it would fail at being a honeypot? Try not to over think this...|
Level 3 Web — Deep web
Wait, the deep web inside the deep web? Try not to think too hard...
Apparently one can find celebrity scandals here; to be fair, this did pre-date The Fappening allegedly run by a tight-knit hacker group. Vague hacker jargon starts to be introduced such as "XSS worm scripting", "computer security", "visual processing" and apparently "specific virtual reality". And to think all this time you've settled for general virtual reality.
||Say "hello" to more hacker jargon such as data analysis, AI theorists, shell networking and the "Assembly Programmer's Guild". so why is this on the dark net? What's so bad about machine code? Stop thinking too hard.
As for AI information, to date, there are two mirror websites that host an AI titled VIKI. The websites claim that the bot has "been online since 01JAN70 in one form or another. Most likely, these websites were created because of this (mis)infographic.
Level 4 Web — Charter web
||Let's list random sick shit: child pornography, The Hidden Wiki (wtf?), Assassination Box, human trafficking, and god forbid banned books are here. The hard drugs trade can be found here and clearly not on well documented darknet markets.
To be fair, one can find various anarchist writings but no more so than on the clearnet. In addition, "personal records" a.k.a. doxes can be found on websites such as Doxbin.
||Possibly a reference to the cyberbrains of Ghost in the Shell.
More illegal porn (hey, what happened to the animal crush fetish porn? This is discrimination!), artificial intelligence, and information about "secret" Nazi discoveries that totally aren't publicly available now.
As for red rooms and snuff films, currently no evidence supports the existence of real red rooms on the dark net or the existence of a snuff films. In addition, it can be concluded that Peter Scully's red room never existed either. He was charged with "pay-per-view video streams"; however, the reports of him live-streaming are allegations, according to Mamamia. This doesn't stop websites from blindly stating otherwise. Someone could always ask the man himself about it; however, even 60 Minutes had trouble getting Scully to speak about his crimes.
|This is rather not 80% of the physical information, but 80% of the information that effects [sic] you directly||The (mis)infographic makes another reference to deep web search technologies while also making a bullshit statement on how the information affects someone.|
|Shit… I don't really know faggot. All I know is that you need to solve quantum mechanics in order to view this on even the normal web, let alone closed servers. Quantum Computation exists, and the government powers have them. So be careful what you do here.||The (mis)infographic just makes up the term Polymeric falcighol derivation. It wouldn't be a proper sensationalist graphic without a little homophobia and conspiracy-theory mongering, would it?|
Level 5 Web — Marianas web
|The day you get here is,[sic] when OP is no longer a faggot.|
Level 6 web — (?)
|Intermediary between the Marianas Web and Levels 7 and Level 8||Level 6: a level that exists for the sole purpose of being one.|
Level 7 web — The Fog/Virus Soup
|The best way to describe level 7 would but[sic] a war zone. Where it is every man for themselves, where everyone who "made" it here is trying to get to the 8th level preventing other people from getting there.||ಠ_ಠ|
Level 8 web — The Primarch System
|Level 8 is impossible to access directly. The primarch system is what controls the Internet. No government or organization has control of it. Nobody even knows what it is. The system is an anomaly discovered in the 2000's. It is unresponsive, but sends out unalterable commands to the entire net, randomly. The entire 7th Level is people trying to gain access to Level 8 and stopping others from getting there. Level 8 is thought to be separated by "level 17 quantum t.r.001 level function lock" which is virtually impossible for our computers to break.
Also known as "The Final Boss of The Internet"
Other deep web myths include:
- Services to 'get more info' on people
- On the clearnet this is called Facebook stalking.[citation NOT needed]
- Rare videos
- The Columbine Massacre tapes
- Haunted computer games
- Exotic pets for sale
- Fixed sports matches
- Human Hunting
Note that the the category "None" contains nearly half of Hidden Service content. This makes more sense if you just check out Deep Web in a Nutshell covered below. Also note that the table does not specify whether or not the illegal services are actually legitimate.
Deep web in a nutshell
“”Why visit lots of dodgy onion sites on the "dark" web, when you can enjoy being bored out of your wits here on this site in perfect safety? Authentic feelings of disappointment guaranteed, or your money back!
|—Deep web in a nutshell|
Released in May 2015, 'the Deep Web in a nutshell' presents a far more accurate depiction of services that can actually be found.
- The abandoned forum — The best board is "I have made a nice forum, but nobody is here".
- This site is hosted — Expect to see a lot of sites with only this text!
- The weird website with an obnoxious picture
Whilst the five layer model is the most popular, other attempts have been created including a colourful iceberg with websites on it from around February 2012 and an eight layered variant from around June 2014. It appears that this rubbish heap info graphic is satire. But who can tell?
Europol put an iceberg there in 2017. Why? Who knows...
The US Congressional Research Service is clueless
Privacy/Anonymity researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis gets it
The mythos behind the deep web draws parallels to various pseudohistory and secret society myths. In both cases, the subjects' portrayal takes advantage of human curiosity and wonderment. Even if there is little to no actual evidence that points to a certain conclusion, evidence to support people's opinions is conjured through unrelated "evidence" or entirely falsified to sell stories. As for the latter, people look at stories from news authorities and assume the content and themes presented in said stories must be true.
Stories about Silk Road introduced the connotation that the Tor Network and other anonymous networks like I2P are mainly for illegal purposes. Now that this connotation has been initiated, people believe it and start their own Hidden Services and YouTube videos to prolong it. Hidden services have the security advantage of having end-to-end encryption for web browsing and Tor Browser has great security features; it's disappointing that the Tor Project's name is tarnished by stories related to Silk Road and urban legends.
- Tor Browser
- Tails — An operating system that includes Tor Browser. It is set up to prevent DNS leaks and has anti-forensics measures.
Truth about the Deep web
- The 'Real' Dark Web Doesn't Exist | Motherboard
- The myth of Marianas Web, the darkest corner of the internet (misspelled as "Mariana's Web")
- DeepDotWeb (Hidden Service Link) A news site focused on darknet markets and similar happenings
- /r/deepweb/ on Reddit
- A Primer On The Dark Web - The Onion
- Individuals who deal in stolen data are often known as carders must participate in private communities to disseminate the first rounds of their stolen information and to establish a reputation. Established carders can often sell information directly to end fraudsters via darknet markets.
- It used unauthorized targeted surveillance. The data breach contained 400TB of information, many lulz were had.
- The Deep Web vs. The Dark Web | Dictionary.com Blog
- Clearing Up Confusion – Deep Web vs. Dark Web
- A discussion about dark net terminology
- Hacker Lexicon: What Is the Dark Web? | WIRED
- The Dark Web, Deep Web and Dark Net – Terminology Hell - Deep Dot Web
- Dark web - In popular culture
- See the Wikipedia article on Deep web.
- Bergman, Michael K (July 2000). The Deep Web: Surfacing Hidden Value. BrightPlanet LLC. http://brightplanet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/12550176481-deepwebwhitepaper1.pdf.
- Sizing the Internet
- The Tor Social Contract
- Tor’s Branding Pivot is Going to Get Someone Killed
- Preliminary analysis of Hacking Team's slides (note arma being a feminist in the comments)
- Motherboard: The 'Real' Dark Web Doesn't Exist
- True Crime on the Dark Web
- Pink Meth Revenge Porn Darknet Website Shut Down by FBI in Operation Onymous
- See the Wikipedia article on Revenge porn in United_States.
- Cox, Joseph (14 October 2015). "Someone Is Trying to Bring Back the Most Infamous Dark Web Revenge Porn Site". http://motherboard.vice.com/read/someone-is-trying-to-bring-back-the-most-infamous-dark-web-revenge-porn-site. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
- 4 days running a secret Dark Web pedophile honeypot (and why I now think Tor is the devil)
- The Uncensored Hidden Wiki — Pedo Funding
- Paedophiles Have Created A deep web Version Of Kickstarter To Crowdfund Child Porn
- Welcome to PedoraBox
- Inside AnonIB, Where Hacking Is a Sport and Women’s Bodies Are the Prize
- The Fappening — Brought to You By The Information Marketplace
- The FBI TOR Exploit
- The Pirate Bay Is an FBI Honeypot: a Disconcertingly Plausible Conspiracy Theory
- Copyright troll honeypots spotted on The Pirate Bay
- Honeypot reveals mass surveillance of BitTorrent downloaders
- Listen to an FBI “Honeypot” on the Job
- How far into the Deep Web have you travelled?
- The size of the World Wide Web (The Internet)
- It's the Peter Scully 60 Minutes interview that you need to see.
- See the Wikipedia article on Peter Scully.
- Peter Scully's red room Is The Most Disturbing Story You'll Ever Read — Sick Chirpse
- Alleged paedophile Peter Gerard Scully fled a sordid past in Melbourne
- 60 minutes: Peter Scully Episode and Interview
- The myth of Mariana's Web, the darkest corner of the internet
- The Hidden Internet- Marianas web
- Do you think the Basement Tapes may be wandering somewhere in the Deep Web?
- Why Aren’t Illegal Wildlife Traders Using the Dark Web?
- Illegal Wildlife Traders Aren't Welcome on the Dark Web
- Can You Buy Fixed Soccer Match Results On The Dark Net?
- Human-hunting on the internet, also not a real thing — UPDATED!
- Moore, Daniel. "Cryptopolitik and the Darknet". Survival: Global Politics and Strategy. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00396338.2016.1142085. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- Cox, Joseph (1 February 2016). "Study Claims Dark Web Sites Are Most Commonly Used for Crime". https://motherboard.vice.com/read/study-claims-dark-web-sites-are-most-commonly-used-for-crime. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- See the Wikipedia article on Tor (anonymity network) — Usage.
- Wikipedia: Hidden Services 2016
- Your new #Tor Browser homepage — THE #Deepweb in a nutshell: http://dtt6tdtgroj63iud.onion #Darkweb #darknet
- Deep Web in a Nutshell
- Adding Clinet SSL to HIdden Service
- Open-source software