Did you know the dark web and the deep web, while overlapping, aren’t the same? Were you aware that over half of the dark web is associated with illegal activity, but it is also used as an anti-censorship tool for journalists and dissidents living in countries where censorship is an issue? Even mainstream companies such as Facebook, have launched their own sites on the dark web. Find out why.
1. Deep Web and Dark Web Are Not One and The Same
While the dark web holds an ominous reputation, with infamous darknet drug market, Silk Road, having operated through it, it often times is associated with the deep web. However, the dark web and deep web are not the same.
The Deep Web and Dark Web Explained
As the name suggests, the deep web is what is beneath the surface, or surface web. It includes password protected sites and non-permanent URLs, in addition to raw data used by the government and scientists, among others.
Surprisingly, most people use the deep web every day. (In fact, most content that is online is a part of the deep web.) When employees and employers log onto their email accounts or sift through bank statements on a bank account, they are on the deep web. Forget search engine indexing. Basically, the deep web is anything that can’t automatically be found through Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine for that matter.
Where it becomes confusing is that the dark web is a part of the deep web; it is not something that is accessible via search engines (surface web) nor can it be accessed on your standard web browser. Websites on the dark web exist on an encrypted network and cannot be found by using traditional search engines or visited by using traditional browsers. Users have to actually download special tools such as Tor or I2P before proceeding to the dark web.
The deep web is the overarching umbrella that includes the dark web—along with your email account, bank account, private social media messages, etc.
2. It Is an Efficient Communication Method
The dark web is where you would access black market deals, murder for hire, drugs, contraband, child pornography, terrorist sites, and fake IDs. However, not all the dark web offers illegal products and services. Objectors and journalists residing in authoritarian countries use the dark web to bypass the strict censorship their countries institute.
In other words, it is a way for individuals to learn about the outside world without being surveilled. People living in less censored countries who do not wish to be surveilled also use the dark web for that reason. (Please know that the dark web is illegal to use in some countries.) Some feel that the dark web is a place where free exchange of ideas can take place, which is true to the original purpose of the internet.
3. Total Anonymity
Thanks to advance encryption, no one knows who hosts websites on the dark web or where they live. This is what makes the dark web attractive. It is also what makes is extremely dangerous.
4. 57% of Sites on Dark Web Browser, TOR, Are Associated with Crime
According to a study, 57% of sites have to do with illegal activity (i.e. drugs, finance, illicit and illegal porn, cyber crime). In order to collect information about the dark web, a crawler bot scraped TOR sites.
Out of the 5,205 live sites it scraped, 2,723 of those were classified. After more categorization and classification, it was found that 1,547 Tor sites had illicit and illegal material on them.
This shows that while not everything on TOR is illegal—43% according to this study—a larger percentage is. This means that if individuals do not know how to use the dark web, it is best to not use it at all.
5. Mainstream Companies Use the Dark Web
As we’ve mentioned, Facebook has a site on Tor. News company, ProPublica, is another. In fact, the news site became the first major news organization to launch its own site on the dark web.
Why Are Companies Doing This?
It may seem strange that major companies, like Facebook and ProPublica, are on the dark web, especially given that the dark web is home to several criminal sites—57% to be exact.
According to ProPublica, they made the decision to go on TOR because they believe in censorship protection; people should have the right to read uncensored information.
Secondly, the news site made a conscious choice to give users the option to not be surveilled, whether that is from marketing ads or the government.
Facebook, the first Silicon Valley company to launch on the dark web, decided to make the move based on similar reasons as ProPublica. While users who log onto Facebook via the dark web cannot normally use a pseudonym, it still adds a layer of security and protection.
Bonus: It Is Sponsored by the US Government
Supposedly, according to this article, the US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, The Ford Foundation, and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency sponsor TOR.
Perhaps this is to monitor activity on TOR? (Which somewhat defeats the purpose of anonymity.) Or perhaps it is to combat the illegal activity on the dark web browser?
The dark web is a part of but is not the same as the deep web. While 57% of sites on TOR are illegal, there are sites objectors and journalists use to combat heavy censorship.
Companies like Facebook and ProPublica launched sites on the dark web to support this message. Supposedly the US government knows and even supports TOR. Given that it is totally anonymous and is associated with crime, it is not recommended to access the dark web.
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