The Different Types of Sites on the Dark Web.1/3
Though the dark web differs from the clear web in terms of its content, the form remains the same. There are seven basic types of websites on the dark web:
- forums and blogs
- e-commerce websites
- news sites
- file hosting sites (leaks, ransomware, etc.).
1 – Forums and Blogs
Since the dark web offers total freedom in terms of tone, it makes sense that a significant component comprises spaces for individual expression (blogs) or to share information within a community (forums).
The format of blogs on the dark web is not much different to the clear web. Some are fairly minimalist and use a pre-established format, such as blogs hosted by Torpress, while others are much more elaborate in terms of function and aesthetics.
Forums on the dark web, regardless of the topics they cover, are managed in very different ways. Some forums are unmoderated: anyone can write anything by using (or taking over) any pseudonym. This was the case for the now-defunct Trollodrome and its current avatars.
Besides the fact that this practice inevitably leads to problematic behaviour such as defamation, doxing, and insults, it also encourages massive unwelcome ad campaigns that can rapidly render the forum unreadable or even unusable.
Conditions to access the Unethical Division site
Homepage of Trollodrome – Reborn, which disappeared in August 2018.
2 – E-commerce Sites
The sensitive nature of most of the goods and services sold (most often illegal in many countries) explains the presence of these shops on the dark web. There is a wide variety of merchandise on offer: the most common include the sale of private data or stolen bank cards, weapons, drugs, fake bills, fake ID cards or diplomas, fee-based hacking courses, and access to paedophilia.
It is not uncommon to find deceitful vendors on the dark web. In response, marketplaces often use a service to secure transactions called escrow2. This service is usually provided by a member of the community. The third-party collects and holds the transaction payment until the buyer confirms they have received their purchase. This “trusted third party” receives a commission on the transactions they oversee. However, an escrow will occasionally take advantage of their position and unjustly block many transactions before disappearing with all the money.
3 – News Sites
Some websites specialise in certain topics, particularly news about the dark web itself or anonymisation technologies.
4 – Libraries
The dark web also contains large quantities of electronic works. Unlike e-commerce sites, they don’t necessarily offer sensitive content. There are of course censored works or dangerous content (such as manuals for building explosives or flame throwers on the Anarchist Bookstore site).
However, we can also find harmless content that should not require the anonymity of the dark web. For example, we can download magazines of stock market listings from the 1990s on the site of a German library. A French site even offers complete collections of comic books (Astérix, Achille Talon, Ric Hochet, etc.), textbooks, and many issues of the magazine Science et vie Junior.