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RE: dark web / deep web

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Whenever someone mentions the “dark web” or the “deep web” in a conversation I try very hard to bite my tongue.

People do actually refer to those terms as if they were describing real things. It’s amazing what contemporary TV programming does to our ability to use logic and all that shit.

Perplexingly, according to the media, the “dark web” is a somehow secret place, sacred even, presumably hidden very well. Only very smart people know how to “enter” it. But, according to many people who I’ve talked to, it’s also very easy to get sucked into this digital abyss by accidentally pressing the wrong button on your computer.

Yeah, that sounds perfectly reasonable.


A web within a web? Nonsense.

If anyone is interested in video footage of people being tortured, raped, shot, dismembered, burned, hanged or buried alive – that stuff is out there and it’s not hidden away in some secret area.

Google is your friend. You will find all those things if you seek them.

There is no mysterious protocol involved, it’s all just HTTP, UDP and FTP traffic. These protocols have been around since the inception of the internet.

Even the Tor technology and the Tor browser (a Firefox derivate) are no big secret anymore. The concept of Tor and how it is used for “anonymous” browsing and “entering the deep web” has become widespread knowledge since the Silk Road incident.

And while Linux and Unix operating systems are commonly used by people who are (misleadingly) referred to as “hackers”, the so-called “deep web” is available to anyone gifted enough to use a normal browser. In order to obtain questionable or outright illegal digital content you don’t need a specialist’s education.

It took me 2.7 seconds to find this gem of a Quora question: “Is there anywhere on the dark web to watch the latest episodes of TV shows and movies?” – people answer unironically and it’s clear that most participants of that discussion are completely, well, in the dark.

The Facebook bubble

People are spending more and more time in front of their devices. But where do they spend that time? Studies indicate that most people spend most of their time on the websites of the big players: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Reddit, etc.

It’s understandable that there is no such gruesome content as mentioned above on those platforms. They pay people to filter it out. The wicked stuff is illegal almost everywhere – and yet, it’s there.

If people escaped their Facebook bubble for a moment, they would see the web for what it is: A buyer’s market.

TV series mentioning the “dark web”

Where do people get those ideas? That there is a “deep web”, a layer of darkness beneath the very fabric that people recognize as “the internet”.

The answer is simple. Television.

A few examples of contemporary TV programming:

Dark Web (2015)

This is a documentary about the Silk Road, an online black market for drugs, guns, sex and WWII memorabilia. Narrated by Keanu Reeves who starred as Neo in the dystopian masterpiece Matrix from 1999.

How to get away with murder (2014)

S1E4 (24m24s)

Oliver (IT guy): “You just download this app from the deep web and worm your way into the phone company’s mainframe using basic java code. Anyone could learn how to do it.”
Connor (law student): “I changed my mind. I-I just — I don’t care.”

Dark Net (2016)

It’s a Showtime publication and focused entirely on the “dark web”, hence the title.

Designated Survivor

S2E12 (20m0s)

Russian guy: “The leader of an anti-imperialist hacker collective. He posts on dark web forums under that moniker.”

Generation Crypto

The existence of crypto currencies is also giving further credence to the idea of a divided internet. Anonymous financial transactions are the basis of any illegal market, offline and online.

It’s absurd to think that every run-of-the-mill online criminal is some kind of mastermind, well-versed in the arts of “hacking” and using and abusing the latest and greatest “secret” technologies.