You may have heard of the dark web before: an untraceable network of websites only accessible through the Tor browser. And it hosts a lot of shady content. Most people don’t know much more than that. Rather, the phrase “dark web” just brings to mind scary online content.
If you want to know more about the unsettling, strange, or downright frightening things you can find on the dark web, you’ve come to the right place. Here are six real things you could find if you were to look around the dark web.
1. Whistleblowing Sites
The dark web is home to plenty of illegal activity. But you can also find extremely important activism. Many people living in countries with heavy surveillance use the dark web as a way to stay in touch with the world at large without having to worry about any potential ramifications. Do some looking, and you’ll find whistleblowers worldwide.
2. Hitman Services
When you think about the dark web, this is probably closer to what you envision. And yes, it actually exists. It’s not just one website offering these kinds of services, either, as options abound in this realm. Still, despite what tabloid headlines might have you believe, people don’t frequently use these services. If you’re not personally caught up in anything shady, you don’t have anything to worry about.
The Silk Road, named after an ancient network of trade routes between Asia and Africa, is essentially an e-commerce site for drugs that’s only available through the dark web. Technically, it’s been taken down, not once, but twice. However, it lives on in spirit. Drug dealing remains a market that rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars per day on the dark web, even outside of the Silk Road site. From seemingly innocuous medications like Viagra to hard recreational drugs like cocaine, the dark web remains a hotspot for drug dealers.
4. Fake Passports and IDs
While always illegal, the business of fake passports and IDs doesn’t always equate evil. It’s true that some people use fake identification to impersonate others, or to escape from criminal charges for which they should face consequences. Underage teens might want to get into establishments that only allow entry for those over a certain age. However, it’s also true that some people could use fake IDs under dire circumstances, or at least for fairly innocuous reasons. For example, someone could be trying to escape from a domestic abuser or political persecution.
5. Social Media Sites
It may surprise you, but some people use the Tor network to communicate with normal friends. They could be communicating with people for activism reasons, communicating outside of a heavily surveilled country, or just communicating without corporations looking over their shoulder.
The Tor browser is home to a number of social networks, including both original social networks and sites that are essentially a clone of well-known networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Because the dark web is so frequently shifting and changing, social networking sites can be here today, gone tomorrow, but they’re always popular.
6. Real People’s Personal Information
This is one of the scariest parts of the dark web. Hitman services, for example, target specific individuals, which means you’ll almost certainly never be on the receiving end. However, personal information is routinely harvested from various web sources. This personal information can include full names and addresses, Social Security numbers, and even bank account or credit card information.
Most of the time, this fraud is quickly caught and reversed. But if you’re not careful with your information, you could find yourself in deep water.
Staying Safe in the Dark
The dark web is a hub of activity that includes both legal and illegal activity. Although it’s a place where you can go if you want to stay entirely anonymous, that doesn’t mean that just using the Tor browser keeps all your information under wraps.
If you want to make sure you’re keeping your information out of other people’s hands, make sure you use a public records site like PeopleFinders to try and keep an eye on your personal security. Look up your own name to possibly see what information about you is available, including any unexpected fraud, identity theft and so forth. Once you discover that information, then you can take the next needed steps to clean things up. The PeopleFinders blog has even more ideas for how to keep you and your loved ones’ safe.
It might not be obvious as a positive source of inspiration. But you can take your privacy cues from the anonymity of the dark web, and protect your personal information today.
Image attribution: Oleksii – stock.adobe.com