Demystifying the Dark Web

Terms like "the dark web" are designed to scare you. 

Let’s demystify the dark web, and maybe even encourage you to join the dark side! If you believe what you see on TV, you probably think that everyone on the dark web is a pedophile or a drug dealer. In fact, The Onion Router, or Tor, was designed by the US Navy to protect sensitive communication. Tor is both a browser and a domain (.onion) that protects users' privacy by relaying or bouncing signals around. Rather than your search being a point A to point B communication, there are several Tor relay points in-between which obfuscate your path like so:

There are many positives about this. As recent massive Facebook data harvesting scandals have made abundantly clear, we all need to be more conscientious about the volume of personal information we leak into the universe. In fact, you are at far greater risk for fraud on the regular web, since you're using your credit card, answering surveys, taking "quizzes" about your personal preferences, leaving reviews, and really telling the online world a whole lot about yourself every day in little ways that accumulate and are all tied back to you.

On the dark web, you are just an anonymous IP address. Does that make the dark web a great place to exchange illegal stuff? Sure. We wouldn't recommend buying an iPhone from a poorly rated seller on eBay, much less from an anonymous, untraceable stranger on the dark web. And just like in high crime areas in real life, there are undercover law enforcement organizations keeping a very close watch on everything that's happening. 

So what is the dark web GOOD for? Victims of domestic violence are one important example — the Tor browser allows those at risk to use the web without giving up their location to anyone in any way. Honestly, anyone who is concerned about the security of their personal data might download the free Tor browser or just install the DuckDuckGo extension on your current browser. You get a sense of Tor’s slightly paranoid hyper-interest in privacy immediately — when we tested it out and maximized the browser we received the following warning popup:

Should you decide to try surfing the dark web with the Tor browser yourself, you can download it at https://www.torproject.org/download, and if you like what you see or believe in their general mission, throw them a few bucks - they're a nonprofit! Start by checking out the Hidden Wiki, and go from there. Will you find that there is a lot of sketchy stuff on there? Sure, but have you trolled Twitter lately? #JustSayin

Honestly, there are way more nerds and civil libertarians on the dark web than pedophiles and drug dealers. Despite what the news media would have you believe.

You may also be confused by the term "deep web," which simply refers to any web pages that are deliberately un-indexed or not listed. These pages have code within them that prevents search engines from paying attention to them — the opposite of SEO and the first-page search results that most websites desire. Why would someone want their page to remain un-indexed? It might be a temporary page, an internal page, something you've created for a specific niche audience that you don't want to be found by the world at large. But it's generally not creepy at all.

From a marketing perspective, dark and deep web information is lost to analytics and tracking, but for some clients, its use may be appropriate.  So we keep it in our back pocket and make sure that any prospects or clients understand the how/when/why if it is relevant to them, and we can develop content accordingly.

So... after reading all this do you still think of the dark web or deep web as something mythical and terrifying?  Call us and let’s chat about it. 

 

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