You know how to create a fake profile on Facebook and ‘Catfish’ somebody. You know how to search for pornography on Google. You know how to find controversial clips on Youtube. So you think you know how to access all the dark stuff on the Internet now, right? Wrong.
Chances are, most of you have only accessed 0.03% of the Internet, because you’ve been using web browsers like Firefox, Google or whatever. The search engines you’ve heard of are known as the surface Internet, and it’s called this, because it literally scratches the surface of the Internet. It’s been compared to the tip of an iceberg because if you’ve seen Titanic, like most Leonardo fans, you’ll understand that an iceberg is kind of like a giant ice cube, just the tip of it sticks out the top of the water, whilst the majority of it is hidden bellow. The majority of the Internet is called the Deep Web and cannot be access via normal search engines.
It is estimated that the Deep Web is 500x bigger than the Surface Web, however nobody knows how big it really is as it contains billions upon billions of pages. The Deep Web is an uncensored space, which makes it very dangerous. There is a lot of illegal activity happening on it and it’s most controversially known for allowing access to drugs, hit men and child pornography. Due to the Deep Web’s sheer size, it makes it difficult for the police to regulate. When using the Deep Web you are also anonymous and it is difficult to trace your activity, which makes you harder to find, but not invisible. However, that’s not to say it is all criminality, it’s just content not covered by search engines.
Some people browse the Deep Web for enlightenment. Top-secret information or controversial video clips are often hidden from the public online community. Most people are aware that the video of the hanging of Saddam Hussein was removed from the Internet for example. The Deep Web allows people access to thousands of files leaked from scientific missions by NASA, information hidden in Area 51 and other Government released data. Links like Infomine reveal informative hidden sites. Answers to popular conspiracy theories are also supposed to be hidden here. One of the most popular access browsers to the Deep Web was actually created by the US navy as part of their Government’s research.
Drug purchasing became a lucrative business to Ross Ulbricht, 29 who created the famous online marketing place Silk Road; known as the eBay for drugs. You can choose from a range of drugs, specifying the strength and amount, with just the click of button. Providers can deliver them to you or have the stash dropped somewhere hidden for you to go pick up from a GPS location. Illegal items and services are purchased online using Bitcoins, an untraceable electronic currency, which works like Paypal. Silk Road transactions amounted to millions of pounds worth of Bitcoin. Silk Road had been around for over a decade before it was shut down when Ross was arrested for allegedly hiring an undercover FBI agent to kill two people. There was a 39-paged federal complaint against him after the two-year investigation. However the website was quickly replaced by replica sites and is now once again up and running like normal.
One benefit to the Deep Web is that it allows people living in oppressive countries to access Internet resources that are prohibited. The countries firewalls usually restrict the content that people see, and China in particular has been scrutinized for only allowing people to see one-sided information, which aims at manipulating their opinions. Therefore the Deep Web provides a safe haven for victims of oppression to communicate and speak freely about what is happening in their country.
That’s not to say the Deep Web is a safe haven. It’s actually far from safe. Without taking certain precautions your computer can be hacked; if you click on the wrong link your webcam can be hacked into, your files and your activity can be traced. There are a whole array of dangerous shady characters who can make your life difficult, ranging from professional hackers, human traffickers and renegade scientists. By using the Deep Web, you’re not only putting yourself at risk from criminals, but also law enforcement as well. The community on these sites may encourage criminality but that is not the purpose of the Deep Web. Most people begin visiting pages through the Hidden Wiki, which contains links to different web pages and is not monitored like the Wikipedia you can access on your normal search engines.
One of the most chilling opportunities available on the Deep Web is the chance to hire a hit man. This service does not come cheap before you start fantasizing about that guy that flipped you off in the car the other day, or that idiot who bullied you in school. Contracts cost around £7000+. Killer’s boast about their willingness to torture victims and their skills in making the death look like an accident. They also brag about their current death toll and even offer the chance for others to profit from their killing, allowing users to make bets on when the victim will die, by putting money in a pool. So if you ever picked on that nerdy kid at school, who looks like they’re on their way to fortune, I’d sleep with one eye open if I were you.
If you were considering viewing the Dark Web, then I’d advise you not to try it alone and proceed with caution. If you just clicked on a few dodgy links or browsed the Deep Web just out of curiosity, it’s unlikely you’d get in trouble for it. That’s not to say I’m not encouraging everyone to flee to the dark side, I’m just making you aware it’s out there, and it’s real.